The Central Library of Mosul was heavily damaged during ISIS' rule, but thanks to the efforts of young people, it is now recovering.
ISIS paid little respect to the cultural heritage of historical metropolises in Iraq. The main city to fall to the hands of ISIS was Mosul. The city saw untold destruction as a direct result of ISIS rule and the city’s historical monuments and educational institutions were heavily damaged, as the terrorist group sought to create a clean slate in order to entrench their ideology onto a tabula rasa, expunged of memories of the city’s past.
One such institution to fall was the city’s Central Library, which was turned into rubble by the actions of ISIS militants. The Library was established in 1921 and housed millions of books possessing abundant historical value. With the emergence of ISIS in Mosul, a small number of books were transferred to Baghdad for preservation. Luckily, many of the books that were not moved remained intact and were found amongst the rubble. They have been housed in a safe part of the Library after efforts to rehabilitate and restore it.
A campaign lead by young people from Mosul called “Mosul’s Eye” was set up to collect books from the Central Library that have remained intact.
The Central Library is seen as part of the University of Mosul. The University was burned down by ISIS and used as a weapons storage base for the terrorist group. ISIS militants even manufactured and stored chemical weapons there. The University was retaken by Iraqi forces along with the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul. Several initiatives have since been implemented by non-governmental organisations and volunteer groups to restore the University and its former prestige as a significant centre of learning in Iraq.
These initiatives form part of the general efforts being directed towards the reconstruction of Mosul, which was considered by ISIS to be the capital of its so-called “Islamic State”.