In 2015, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called the destruction of libraries and books in Mosul “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.”
Earlier that year, ISIS burned Mosul University’s central library. The library was also air-struck by the US-led coalition forces in March 2016. In the Anbar province, ISIS embarked on a book-burning campaign, destroying more than 100,000 titles, according to local officials.
The library at the University of Mosul, once among the finest in the Middle East, had a million books. About 600,000 were in English and the rest were in Arabic and other languages, now mostly burned.
“ISIS’s main goal is to destroy knowledge and culture, while IBB’s main goal is to create a knowledge movement in Iraq and make information accessible in the Middle East. They can not be more at odds.
Extremists and authoritarians stand for destruction and IBB stands for construction.”
IBB’s Founder Faisal Saeed Al Mutar
Reviving the Great Library Of Mosul
IBB was connected with the director of the library (Sayf Al-Ashqar) through our coordinator at the University of Mosul, Ameen Al Jaleeli, who led our translation program there. They, together with the library’s Planning Unit director (Dr. Ghada Abdulkareem), have provided us with a list of books that they need for their various colleges, such as the college of medicine (where my dad studied), the college of engineering, and the college of fine arts, from Oxford dictionaries to introduction to anatomy.
IBB will start buying relevant and needed books and computers in the first week of April for the library.
Luckily, many of the books on the list can be purchased in Baghdad and neighboring countries. The computers will allow the library to access electronic books and journals from around the world and reconnect the university to the global community.
IBB acquired all the licenses to complete this operation and is planning a ceremony both virtually and physically if COVID restrictions are lifted in Mosul in early May or June.
This program will be led by Ahmed Al Rayes from Ideas Beyond Borders and Dr. Khalid Al Joubori.