YAS member Dr Alaa Hamdon has detailed the work being done by YAS and partners at University College London and Book Aid International to rebuild and restock Mosul University Library on BBC Radio 4’s live arts programme, Front Row.
Mosul University, where Alaa researches and lecturers as an Earthquake Analyst, was one of the first institutions targeted by IS after their occupation of Mosul in 2014. Its University Library, which housed over a million books, including historical documents over 300 years old was sacked and later burned completely.
“The library was the heart of Mosul University, and it was like a lighthouse of knowledge for Mosul. . . There were more than one million publications and books housed in the library, so [the damage done to the library] was devestating.”
Since Mosul was liberated from IS forces in 2017, some 50,000 students and staff have returned to Mosul University to continue researching and sharing knowledge. Unfortunately, they no longer have access to the texts they need to continue this important work.
Alaa started the Mosul Book Bridge campaign with the goal of replacing all the lost books and gaining access to digital resources for Mosul’s students and researchers. He was joined by Dr Caroline Sandes by colleagues in YAS including Kate Waker and Alice König.
Explaining Mosul Book Brige’s 5-year vision for 2024, Alaa said” The library needs more instruments, more digital documentation, training for the staff, and more books.”
Book Aid International has been working closely with Mosul Book Bridge to source new books specific to Mosul University’s needs and arrange shipment of these materials to Mosul- a considerable logistical challenge, as there are many security challenges to consider in shipping these materials.
The full radio show is available via BBC iPlayer here (Alaa’s interview begins 19 minutes in to the show). To learn more about this initiative, please visit the Mosul Book Bridge website. If you wish to make a monetary donation to the initiative please visit this page on the Book Aid International website.