Library book donation 

Hundreds of books donated to academics trying to rebuild the University of Mosul

Hundreds of books from the University of Exeter will be sent to Iraq to help academics trying to rebuild the University of Mosul.

ISIS ransacked the university’s library when they took control of Mosul three years ago, and destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts.

Now lecturers in the city are hoping to reopen their university. To support them around 600 Arabic textbooks belonging to the University of Exeter will be donated as a gift to the people of Mosul.

The unused books – which are about a variety of topics including literature, history, culture and politics – should arrive in Iraq later this autumn.

Mosul’s libraries, including those at the university, used to house valuable and rare manuscripts. The University of Mosul is Iraq’s second largest university and used to have around 30,000 students. ISIS burnt and stole many books because they were considered to be blasphemous. Supporters of the university have launched an international campaign – led by an academic blogger Mosul Eye - to collect new books and other printed materials for students.

The books donated to Mosul by the University of Exeter have been collected since 2003, the start of the second Iraq war. Paul Auchterlonie, a librarian at The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, was concerned the cultural heritage of Iraq could be destroyed and started keeping duplicate or spare books in case they would be needed. Now Zoe Humble, who is working with academics on a research project on Iraq, is arranging for the books to get to Mosul.

ISIS have now largely left Mosul, and the Baghdad government has declared that the city has been liberated. But conflict is still ongoing in the east of the city. The west of the city, home to the University of Mosul, is safer and the occupying Iraqi Army is trying to bring stability.

Ms Humble said: “We are working hard to make sure these books get to Iraq. This is challenging because of the lack of infrastructure in Iraq. There is no postal service. But we want to support those trying to reopen the University of Mosul. Academics and students have been through an immensely traumatic time, living through what must have been a terrifying experience, but they are trying to clean and repair buildings themselves and we want to do what we can do help.

“Paul anticipated that these books would be needed. Books are an integral part of any city and society. This will be even more so for the University of Mosul, where computers, desks and electricity are scarce.”

Date: 20 October 2017

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