What is it all about?
Let’s help the Library! (Pomozme knihovně!) is the name of a charitable fundraiser that was organized with the purpose to aid the recovery of the Library of the University of Mosul, which took place between 2.10.2017 and 31.1.2018.
What was the goal?
The central library of the University Library of Mosul used to be one of the most important libraries of the Middle East with more than a million of documents (including valuable manuscripts and old prints), it offered students and teachers of the university the informational background needed for their studies and teaching. In the years of 2014 to 2016, when the second largest city of Iraq fell under the so called Islamic state, the library was systematically destroyed. Almost all of the collections have been burned along with the facilities. The systematic destruction of books was an integral part of the rule of the Islamic state, and many of the unique manuscripts and prints as well as contemporary academic texts were destroyed. Towards the end of the occupation, the library itself took heavy damage and was almost completely destroyed during bombing raids. The library became a target for the national Iraqi armies and coalition forces as they used the university campus as a base for their military operations. The city of Mosul was finally freed in July of 2017 and the effort of rebuilding the city started at once, along with the efforts to rebuild the university. The goal of the fundraising is to help the central Library of the University of Mosul to function again– the way it has functioned since its founding in 1974.
Why did we want to help?
A fully functioning University library is an institution that creates appropriate conditions for studying, teaching and scientific research. With the help of books and other documents it is an informational platform that provides education. It is the quality education that is one of the prerequisites for ensuring the safety in the Middle East that has not been safe to live in years. People are not forced to leave their home country to seek safety, if safety is reachable in their homes. Since July 2017 and the final recovery of Mosul, the university and its library are beginning from nothing and need help. The motto through put the fundraiser was :”It does not matter if you wish to help as a librarian, as a student, as a teacher or just as a human being.”.
How much did we raise?
Thanks to the unprecedented generosity and solidarity of our donors we were able to raise 282 078 Czech crowns, from the beginning of October 2017 till the end of January of 2018. This sum more than doubles our initial goal of 100 000 crowns.
And because the organization People in Need has been helping in Iraq since the year 2003, and know the local situation well enough, it has deemed the attempt to help out the library meaningful and beneficial that they have decided to also donate for this purpose from the long term fundraiser True Help. The final sum that will be used to help the Library of the University in Mosul is therefore 500 000 Czech crowns.
How will the money be used?
The money that was raised through the fundraiser will be used byt the organization People in Need will use the money directly in Mosul with coordination with the Library of the University of Mosul, to buy concrete pieces of equipment and furniture for the renewed library or any temporary space in which the library operates.
Most of the finances will be invested in the restoration of the building and to make the library accessible again. The primary goal is not to restore the collections but to help the Library provide the space needed for its functionality. Besides reconstruction, the money can be used for equipment, furniture or for restoring the books that have been preserved or for purchasing new books.
Who is behind the fundraiser?
The idea for this fundraiser arose in the spring of 2017 when the employees of the Library of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University decided they want to express their solidarity and compassion with their colleagues and the difficult situation they face. We as librarians can imagine the impact the destruction of a library can have and all that is needed for its recovery. Because we had no experience with organising a fundraiser we had reached out to the organization People in Need. The organization joined our initiative and shared their experience with organising charitable endeavours. People in Need was also the operator of the bank account of the fundraiser and a guarantor of its credibility.
This organization has been engaged with charitable work in Iraq since 2003. It has workers directly in Mosul and invaluable contacts among the local people. Besides the Library of the Faculty of Arts and People in Need, there were other organizations and institutions that supported this fundraiser.