Since they were students and over a period of years, they carefully collected and catalogued 16,600 books, mostly purchased abroad, and added 20 of their own personal manuscripts in a beautiful large room, especially setup for this purpose within their residence when it was built in the newest part of town, still known as ‘Tirana e Re’. Unfortunately due to the ravages of WWII the Ivanajs did not enjoy for long the comfort of their new home and treasured library. The family was split and forced to leave everything behind when their entire property was confiscated.
In 1945, after his return from exile, Mirash Ivanaj, who had lost his brother while abroad, found part of the original library content, but also these remaining collections got entirely lost after his arrest for political reasons in 1947. Some of them vanished due to pilfering, and others eventually made their way within the National Public Library of Tirana, when everything in the country was institutionalized by the Communist regime in 1950.
Some of the Ivanaj family documents, photographs, and the very large Albanian flag that was once proudly displayed at the Ivanaj home in Tirana, were saved, however, by Mrs. Ivanaj in 1939, when she was forced to leave the family residence, which became the General Headquarter of the Italian Army that occupied Albania. They were stored initially in Italy and later preserved in New York for more than 70 years. Some of these family belongings were shipped to the Foundation’s Institute in Tirana only in recent times and the family flag was again hoisted at the Ivanaj premises in Tirana when physical repossession of the property was finally obtained by Drita Ivanaj in 2009.
A large batch of books, documents, and papers that Drita personally collected during her lifetime in the United States, was also shipped by her to the Foundation Institute in Tirana. The largest portion of this collection consists of business management, accounting, computing, system development, and futuristic publications, in addition to quite a variety of recorded seminars on similar topics, instructional videos, art publications, and a large musical records collection is also included.
Among the current plans of the Ivanaj Foundations one is to re-establish a library within the Foundations’ premises as soon as the related facilities can be set in motion in Tirana. These materials will be put at the disposal of anyone who wants to further his/her education, do research, make references, or even relax with music while learning! Should other Albanians wish to donate some of their own materials of historical value, the Ivanaj Institute will gladly accept them for display and use in the name of their donors.
An accord of collaboration was established a few years ago between the Ivanaj Foundation Institute and the National Archives of Tirana, which are the repository of other Ivanaj documentation, as indicated elsewhere in this site. For the September 2003 conference, organized by the Ivanaj Foundation Institute in Tirana, this institution prepared 20 special large panels of Ivanaj collections of documents and papers. They were used for an archival exhibit at Tirana’s National Historic Museum during the conference, together with various decorations awarded to Prof. Mirash Ivanaj by Albania’s government during his life time and posthumously, and preserved by Drita Ivanaj. These same panels were used again by the Ivanaj Foundation Institute in other presentations, such as during a very successful Historical Exhibit at the Ivanajs’ premises during Albania’s centennial celebrations in 2012, and even at events that took place outside of Tirana. This was done, for instance, at the November 2004 cultural conference that took place in Tuz (Podgoriça-Montenegro).
All gathered historical resources and further contributions of additional documents, books, videos, and recordings will be totally reorganized in the new Ivanaj library that is now planned to become a reality in a couple of years within the Foundations’ headquarters, currently being constructed in Tirana. Here additional collections and ongoing donated published materials will find a secure and functional setting to be enjoyed in the near future by interested visitors of all ages and background.