During ISIS control of Mosul, the University library was nearly destroyed. Now the city has been liberated, one Manchester student is helping to rebuild itHow do you rebuild a library destroyed during ISIS occupation? One Manchester student is helping the global effort Click To Tweet 3,000 books from The University of Manchester will help restock the University library in Mosul Click To Tweet One Manchester student's crowdfunder is helping to rebuild the University library in Mosul Click To Tweet
The 30,000 students studying at the University of Mosul were about to finish their 2014 academic year when ISIS took control of the city.
When students returned in September of that year, they returned to a very different university. ISIS had segregated students by gender, cancelled courses in arts, law and other subjects and begun burning any books which disagreed with their ideology.
In the following years, ISIS banned teaching that wasn’t in line with their ideology, smashed countless statues, and used the university science labs to manufacture bombs and suicide vests.
Thankfully, in 2017, the Iraqi security forces and the international coalition managed to regain control of Mosul from ISIS. But the city, and especially the university, was not the same as it was just three years earlier.
The University Library, once one of the best in the Middle East, was one of the most damaged parts of campus. Not only were thousands of the books and manuscripts destroyed by ISIS, but the building itself took considerable damage from an airstrike during the military operation to liberate the city.
It is estimated that over 100,000 books and manuscripts have been lost.
Rebuilding the library
Rebuilding the library will take a lot of work and a lot of money, but already various people and groups from around the world are getting involved to help.
One of the people helping to rebuild the library is Manchester PhD student Makram Alkhaled.
“Rebuilding the library is hugely important. Tens of thousands of students used to study at Mosul from all over the country, and the library provided them with all the necessary resources.” Makram said.
“I’m originally from Mosul, and as a graduate, I feel responsible for supporting the rebuilding of the educational institutions in the city.”
Makram contacted The University of Manchester Library to ask if they could help. Amazingly, the library told Makram they could donate 2,500 books to send over to Mosul to help the rebuilding effort.
Makram realised that transporting all these books to Mosul would cost quite a lot of money, so turned to the University’s crowdfunding site to try and raise funds for the transportation.
The site connects staff and students at Manchester with alumni and other supporters to raise money for a wide range of projects.
Within just a couple of weeks, the project had reached its minimum target of £800, and was well on its way to reaching the £2000 target.
“I am so overwhelmed by all the support I have received so far.” Makram says, “When I started this crowdfunder, I expected only my friends to support the project, but I was wrong. Most of the support I’ve received so far has been from people that I don’t know.”
Now the crowdfunding campaign is finished, the next steps for Makram are to pack up and organise the shipping of all the books.
When Makram finishes his PhD later this year, he plans on returning to Mosul, and will be sure to spread his gratitude for the people who supported this project.
“From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to say thank you to those who supported my project. I’ll make sure to tell the people of Mosul that there are people who care about you and your university, even though they live thousands of miles away.”