On June 2014, the ISIS took control of the city of Mosul as its caliphate. ISIS ransacked the University of Mosul and its library. ISIS forced university professors to rewrite textbooks for a new education system under the caliphate. Months later, ISIS destroyed the library and the books were reduced to ashes. Unesco called the act ‘one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history’.

Huge loss

The central library contained books in Arabic and English, historic maps and periodicals from the Ottoman era, and ancient Islamic manuscripts, including a ninth-century Qur’an.

There were also around 5000 government publications, dating back to the establishment of the modern Iraqi state in 1921.

According to Al-Fanar Media and the library director, Mohammed Jassim, many of the library’s older manuscripts had been digitized and backed up, so they have not been entirely lost. There were also around 2000 volumes of private collections that were saved, hidden by students, professors, and residents - among of which are rare.

Last January, the Iraqi security forces were able to liberate the eastern part of the city, as the fight against ISIS reaches its tipping point. An anonymous man has been asking for donations of books to rebuild the library.

The man behind the project

Mosul Eye, the anonymous blogger and an independent historian, who has been keeping accounts of life in Mosul under the ISIS for the past 3 years. He is now leading a project to rebuild the library.

Mosul Eye, told Buzzfeed News, that he graduated from the University of Mosul and has taught afterward.

His campaign started in February of this year, after the library’s location was liberated, and has been rapidly gaining attention internationally. Mosul Eye and other volunteers saved whatever that has not been destroyed.

On May 25, an arts festival was held to promote the campaign. As an admission fee, everyone who came had to donate a book for the library.

Books from Australia, Europe, and the United States have been sent. A small NGO named Entraide et Coopération en Méditerranée (Solidarity and Cooperation in the Mediterranean) has pledged to ship 20 tons worth of books in a container. Books in all languages and all disciplines are welcome.

They are targeting to collect 200,000 books to rebuild and reopen the central library and small libraries in the city by early 2018. Mosul Eye believes that by collecting books now, he could start to give hope for the future generations. He hopes that the library will once again, "be a beacon of knowledge and arts."

Let it Be a Book, Rising from the Ashes” – Mosul Eye