At the November 1 session of Sharjah's Publishers' Conference. Image: Nabs Ahmedi, SIBF

Book Aid International Boosts Mosul’s Library in Iraq

In News by Porter Anderson

As its CEO Alison Tweed prepares to speak at Sharjah Publishers’ Conference, Book Aid International tops 20,000 books in the Iraq library project.

Book Bridge’s Alaa Hamdon and Sayf Al Ashqar with the latest delivery of books to the University of Mosul in Iraq. Image: Book Aid International

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Tweed: ‘To Bring Their Library Back to Life’
Ahead of Alison Tweed’s appearance at  Sharjah International Book Fair‘s professional program—the three-day Sharjah Publishers’ Conference—the UK-based Book Aid International is announcing today (November 1) that 10,295 newly donated books from publishers have reached Iraq’s University of Mosul library.

This brings Book Aid International‘s support to a total 20,099 books. The charity has been supporting the university  since 2018 when, when Book Aid was approached by the local group “Mosul Book Bridge,” which was seeking books for the library. 

Tweed is the CEO of Book Aid International in the United Kingdom. She appears as a speaker on a Sharjah panel titled, “Surfacing African Publishing Innovations: The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund.”

Book Aid International is one of five projects to receive 2021 grants, from an initial total of 311 applications from 26 African nations. The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund is an initiative of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the philanthropic program Dubai Cares. The program is designed to operate for four years with an endowment of US$800,000.

The Mosul Library and Book Aid International

Part of the new book delivery to the University of Mosul project in Iraq. Image: Book Aid International

Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar with the damage to the university library, dated by most news accounts to 2015, following the start of the Islamic State group’s occupation in June 2014.

The library had been one of the most important in Iraq and the Middle East, a repository of information on the cultures, religions, and ethnicities that make up the region. The destruction of thousands of books, many of them precious, was a tragic addition to the country’s list of tremendous cultural losses in recent years.

The burning of the library’s collection has been called by UNESCO “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.” 

Book Aid International has committed to supporting the University of Mosul library by providing 50,000 brand-new books to help restore the lost collection. The 10,295 books that arrived on October 31 include higher-education texts in the sciences, engineering, the humanities, and medical subjects. 

Alison Tweed

In a prepared statement, Tweed is quoted, saying, “Libraries have an essential role to play not just in education, but also in giving everyone a space where reading and learning can flourish – and that is why we are delighted to have provided over 20,000 brand new books to the University of Mosul as they work to bring their library back to life. These books will feed discussion, fuel debate and support students as they return to their studies. We would like to thank the UK publishers who generously donated these books to us.”  

Today, the 60,000 students and teachers who have returned to learning at the university are making use of the books provided so far to support their education.

Sayf Al Ashqar, secretary-general of libraries at the University of Mosul, is also quoted, saying, “The rebuilding of our central library sends a clear message that ISIS and groups like it can never exterminate the will to read, learn, and understand.

“We envision our library as a modern hub where anyone who values knowledge can access a wide range of books, discover new ideas, and join in conversations with others who also value education and contact.”

The Book Aid International donations, he points out, “are helping us move one step forward toward realizing our aim.”

Sharjah's Publishers' Conference. Image: Nabs Ahmedi, SIBF

At Sharjah Publishers’ Conference on November 1. Book Aid International is a recipient of the IPA’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, and Book Aid CEO Alison Tweed speaks in the conference’s programming on November 2. Image: SIBF, Nabs Ahmedi

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing in Africa is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on developments in Sharjah is here, more on the Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on Sharjah International Book Fair is here, more on publishing’s trade shows, book fairs, and festivals is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.