Above: The burnt remains of the library at the University of Mosul. Credit: Mosul Eye.
Over the past few weeks, reports have been emerging from Iraq stating that the city of Mosul has been liberated from Daesh control. However, this has come at a significant cost as thousands are dead and now many more are displaced.
Yet even in the midst of the rubble, residents are working hard to return Mosul to some sense of normality. We want to highlight one of these inspiring stories. An anonymous blogger by the name of Mosul Eye is spearheading a campaign to bring books back to the library at the University of Mosul.
Founded in 1967, the University of Mosul library was an invaluable resource for students and staff until Daesh took control of the city. Institutions related to education or science were targeted during the occupation, and as such, almost all of the library’s 200,000 books were burnt.
Mosul Eye has a vested interest in trying to bring the books back. Not only did he graduate from the university, but he was a member of staff when the city fell. Speaking to Buzzfeed News, the blogger said: ‘Whenever I was in the university, I would spend most of my time at the library. When I didn’t like my professors’ lectures, I often went to the library to do research and study books on my own.’
Mosul Eye has been blogging about life in Mosul since Daesh first seized the city. Although he is male, he keeps all other aspects of his identity anonymous in order to protect his family. Despite his low profile, his website is so far reaching that he’s been able to launch this inspiring campaign. After organising a group of people to salvage any books they could from the burnt shell of the library, he put out a call for donations on the Mosul Eye blog.
Credit: Mosul Eye.
Soon books were flooding in from all corners of the globe, to be added to the few (and often very rare) publications that somehow survived the fire.
Today we have preserved rare books and manuscripts in the Central library of Mosul Univ. pic.twitter.com/pyP3EcOMgb
— Mosul Eye عين الموصل (@MosulEye) May 22, 2017
More books for Mosul from students at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Go raibh maith agat. pic.twitter.com/3Iba1eQBV2
— Mosul Eye عين الموصل (@MosulEye) May 25, 2017
So far, Mosul Eye has received over 10,000 books. They are being labelled and sorted by a group of volunteers in the city of Erbil.
While Mosul Eye is welcoming donations of any books, in any language, he is particularly keen to receive publications in fields of medicine, science and the humanities. Now that he says major universities and libraries in both the UK and US have made pledges to donate, he is feeling optimistic.
‘If we can get a space ready by end of this year, the library can reopen in the beginning of 2018,’ he said.
It is an incredible act from a truly incredible person. Although the University of Mosul library may never be restored to its former splendour, Mosul Eye’s campaign shows that knowledge, education and a willingness to learn can never be beaten.