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In Iraq, academics restock Mosul's barren bookshelves

In Iraq, academics restock Mosul's barren bookshelves

5/15/2019

In Iraq , academics restock Mosul 's barren bookshelves

To track down the books, he has had to travel 400 kilometres south to Baghdad , and even a further 600 kilometres to Basra.

For centuries, Mosul was known for its artists and writers, for libraries brimming with books in multiple languages, and for housing Iraq's first printing press.

"It's extremely hard for a researcher to complete his dissertation because there are so few resources available," Abdulhamid Mohammad, a 34-year-old pursuing a doctorate in history, told AFP.

The library even held books in the Syriac language, produced in the 19th century by Iraq's first printing press, across the Tigris river in Mosul's west.

Some experts say IS set aside precious manuscripts to sell on the black market, along with ancient artefacts retrieved from heritage sites it had destroyed.

The library has received 11,758 volumes but is still missing more than a quarter of its previous content, said Hesso.

They included "al-Muhit al-Burhani," a key text in Islamic jurisprudence that dated back 900 years.

"The university library lost more than a million scientific and academic books, including more than 3,500 valuable prints," he told AFP.

Slowly but surely, the university is restocking: nearly 100,000 books were donated from other colleges and non-governmental agencies, both inside and outside Iraq.

"More than 3,000 books were saved. We have also stored away the remnants of another 4,000 destroyed books," said Mosul University librarian Omar Tufiq.

He hid the literary treasures in the cellar of an abandoned home.

Read more: Eyewitness News

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