The Mamma Haïdara Memorial Library was started by Abdul Kader Haïdara, a former employee of the Ahmed Baba Institute (IHERI-AB). After leaving the centre he devoted all of his time and energy to preserve his own family’s manuscript collection and was successful in setting up the Mamma Haïdara Memorial Library, which was the first of its kind in Mali.

The Haïdara family is renowned for its scholars and judges. Abdul Kader’s father, Mamma Haïdara, was not only a Qadi (judge) but also a scholar who taught classical Islamic sciences such as Jurisprudence and Arabic Grammar. His personal library dates back to the 16th century and is one of the largest and oldest collections in the city.

This library was established by Mamma Haidara’s forebear, Mohamed El Mawlud, and was handed down to his descendants, generation after generation. Mamma Haidara added to it substantially, buying manuscripts while studying in Egypt and Sudan. He also studied under local scholars in the village learning centres of Arawan and Boujbeyha, procuring manuscripts there as well. In addition to his Timbuktu library, Mamma Haidara had also established an archive in the village of Bamba.

Mamma Haidara’s efforts were by no means restricted to the collection and preservation of manuscripts. He also established collaborative relationships with other manuscript libraries in the region, facilitating research and exchange. When Mamma Haidara died in 1981, he not only left behind a tremendous legacy for his son, Abdul Kader, but also a passion for manuscripts and an education in basic cataloguing and conservation skills.

Abdul Kader began cataloguing his inherited collection and was assisted by the al-Furqan Heritage Foundation in London, which agreed to publish his catalogue. Currently, four of the projected five volumes in the catalogue have been published. Abdul Kader has also been actively involved in assisting other collection holders in setting up their own libraries and was the founder of the NGO SAVAMA-DCI.

During the 2012 crisis, SAVAMA-DCI, under the leadership of Abdul Kader, led the operation that saw many of the established libraries and family collections removed from their buildings in Timbuktu and hidden from view. The 'smuggling operation' evacuated the Mamma Haïdara Memorial Library, as well as 34 other private collections to Bamako, where they are found until this day. Since then, SAVAMA-DCI has been in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (University of Hamburg) in a project entitled Safeguarding the Manuscripts of Timbuktu for the preservation of, and research on, the Timbuktu manuscripts in Bamako.