Iraq to restore University of Mosul's library
By Khalid al-Taie
Hundreds of books are arriving at the University of Mosul's temporary campus in Kirkuk province each day, sent by private citizens, universities and organisations as part of a national effort to revive the university's central library .
At the start of 2015, the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) burned down the library after plundering its contents.
Since the campaign to restore the library kicked off in January, the university has received thousands of books and publications from all fields of knowledge.
The Syndicate of Arab Historians has sent 12,000 books, according to Ahmed Fakkak Ahmad al-Badrani, dean of the university's college of political sciences.
Scores more have arrived from national and international academic institutes, syndicates and organisations, as well as from researchers and writers, he said.
At the university's temporary campus in Kirkuk, "we have allocated warehouses for books as a temporary solution until we can move back into our main campus in Mosul and rebuild its central library", Ahmed told Diyaruna.
National hub for research
The library, founded in 1967, "is a rich scientific and research centre", previously attracting around 1,000 students and researchers a day from across Iraq.
Its various sections and subsidiaries, such as the Ashurbanipal Library, the Ibn Khaldoun Library and various other cultural and historical studies centres, specialise in different scientific and cultural disciplines.
According to Ahmed, the library used to contain 88 million printed publications including books, academic dissertations and journals.
There was a wing for rare books and manuscripts that was only accessible to senior researchers, he said, and another wing for digital archives of books and journals.
"Burning down the library has been very painful for all its supporters," he said. "We have lost a monumental scientific treasure. We hope that this scientific and cultural monument can be restored."
Among the institutions that have taken part in the efforts to support the library are the Basra University for Oil and Gas, Centre for Arab Gulf Studies in Basra, College of Fine Arts at Diyala University and the Writers Guild of Najaf.
A good number of intellectuals and activists also have volunteered to launch a social media campaign for book donations and collections.
The Iraqi parliament's culture committee on March 29th announced it was starting a large-scale campaign to collect books for the library.
Iraqi MP Sirwa Abdul Wahid, who serves on the committee, told Diyaruna the campaign aims to restore this library and all the libraries of Mosul, and can be reached at the following email address: [email protected]
"We will work on reaching out to a variety of institutions and organisations inside Iraq and abroad, as well as volunteers, to help with the campaign and to collect as many books and manuscripts as possible," she said.
The Ministry of Communications has offered to transport the books to libraries in Mosul, she said, and the ministries of Culture, Higher Education and Transport also have been supportive of the campaign.
"We will have meetings and discussions with Arab universities to support the University of Mosul with books, as well as calling on the international community to contribute," she said.
"All hands should be on deck to plan for rebuilding all the monuments of science and knowledge in Mosul, to eradicate terrorist ideologies and to restore the city to its past glory as a centre for learning," she said.
Local government support
Ninawa governor advisor Duraid Hikmat Tobia said the local government supports the efforts to revive the University of Mosul's library, and other libraries in the city.
"We have to come together in order to restore these cultural monuments," he told Diyaruna.
"ISIL’s theft and burning of the library’s books is one of the group’s heinous crimes against our city’s human and cultural heritage," he said.
"The group not only destroyed this library and other public libraries, but even people’s private libraries, including my own, which is an act that reflects their utter darkness, backwardness and hatred of science and culture," Tobia said.
The local government will co-ordinate with all participating partners in the book donation campaigns, he said, and also will approach international organisations and universities to help rebuild the library.