The destruction of the University of Mosul and its library at the hands of ISIS militants remains one of the most painful examples of cultural destruction suffered by Iraq over the course of the group’s three year rule. Thousands of books and manuscripts were destroyed when the militants set fire to the library in February 2015. Since the liberation of the University in early 2016, Iraqi civil society groups have launched numerous programmes to restock the library. Now, the Najaf-based University of Kufa has joined these efforts with its own campaign.
The initiative, which was launched by the University of Kufa and aims to replenish nearly the entire stock of the library, is considered the first of its kind on a university-level. It aims to collect books of nearly every scientific and educational topic written in both English and Arabic. The president of the University of Mosul has confirmed that books on sciences have been particularly scarce
So far, the staff at the University of Kufa have managed to collect 9,000 books. 2,800 of these were donated by the University itself, while the rest were donated by private donors or collected by volunteers. These books were delivered to the University of Mosul by the 30th Brigade of the Popular Mobilisation Units as a show of solidarity between Iraq’s northern and southern provinces.
In addition to the books donated by the University of Kufa, the staff at the University of Mosul are also expecting a shipment of books from the United Kingdom, gathered through the efforts of numerous British Universities. The support from the British universities come shortly after a group of Australian universities made a donation themselves.
While replacing books on modern sciences will be a relatively straightforward affair, replacing other, rarer items will be harder. The library contained many historical artefacts including those dating all the way back to the Babylonian civilisation. Although copies of many such items exist, there are fears that the originals may now be forever lost.