Despite losing 90-95% of its books during the fighting with ISIS, students are once again using the Central Library of Mosul for their studies.
As the city of Mosul slowly returns to normalcy through the return of services and the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the residents of Mosul are simultaneously trying to revive their cultural heritage, which ISIS attempted to wipe away during the four years that they controlled the city. Many of the students who have returned to their studies at the university say that it is hard to find any materials at the library because ISIS burnt the majority of the content that they used before for education.
“Today, a master’s student in the city of Mosul suffers from several obstacles that prevent them from conducting scientific research, among the most prevalent collecting [primary] sources,” said Ru’a Ihsan, a master’s student from the city of Mosul. “The Central Library of Mosul was subjected to destruction and burning of books by ISIS. For this, obtaining sources has become very tiring and exhausting for the student.
Omar Tawfeeq Abd al-Qadir, a librarian at the Central Library of Mosul, stated that amongst the damage that ISIS had inflicted to the library was the destruction of rare master’s dissertations that were written by the residents of Mosul, who have been known for centuries to be famous artists, authors, and scholars.
“As for the Library’s books, 90-95% are missing and burned,” said Abd al-Qadir.
However, since the defeat of ISIS in the city in July 2017, activists from Iraq and around the world have attempted to rebuild the library, sending crates of books to the University of Mosul so that it can restock the shelves that now lay barren.
The campaign that was launched to refill the library attracted the attention of many Iraqi and Western universities who donated hundreds of books to rebuild the library.
In addition to the rebuilding of libraries, activists and artists around the city have also attempting to revive the city’s cultural heritage through music, film, photography and other means of art. They say that although ISIS tried to destroy their heritage, the militant group’s actions were never able to kill the pride that the locals had in their rich and vibrant identity.
As the city continues to be physically rehabilitated, citizens are hoping to rebuild the Moslawi identity, so that the city can be culturally restored as well.