Middle East Librarians Association
Committee on Iraqi Libraries

The Middle East Librarians Association is a private, non-profit, non-political organization of librarians and others interested in those aspects of librarianship which support the study of or dissemination of information about the Middle East. The area signified is considered to include those countries from Morocco through Pakistan as well as other areas formerly included in the Arab, Ottoman, or Mughal empires.

The MELA Executive Board convened the Committee on Iraqi Libraries to coordinate the organization's response to the damage and destruction suffered by libraries in Iraq during and after the war in March and April 2003. The committee is envisioned to be a small task force of MELA members who have first-hand knowledge of, experience or strong interest in matters related to libraries in Iraq who will be able to field questions, play the role of contact and suggest ways to assist in rebuilding efforts.

©2005 Middle East Librarians Association

Committee Members:

The MELA Committee on Iraqi Libraries herewith expresses its willingness to co-operate with international efforts to recover looted Iraqi antiquities, manuscripts, books and other cultural properties, and to assist our Iraqi colleagues. Many of our members, individuals with much appropriate experience and knowledge, are eager to contribute, and especially eager to reaffirm the bonds of international scholarship.

Documents published under the auspices of the MELA Committee on Iraqi Libraries

Iraqi Libraries and Archives in Peril: Survival in a Time of Invasion, Chaos, and Civil Conflict, A Report 2007

Middle East MELA Committee on Iraqi Libraries: Aims & Strategies

Indispensable yet Vulnerable: The Library in Dangerous Times A Report on the Status of Iraqi Academic libraries and a Survey of Efforts to Assist Them, with Historical Introduction, by Jeff Spurr.

"List of Stolen Manuscripts" = pages 16-43 of: Fujii, Hideo; Oguchi, Kazumi. Lost Heritage: Antiquities Stolen from Iraq's Regional Museums. Fascicle 3. Tokyo: Institute for Cultural Studies of Ancient Iraq, Kokushikan University; 1996. 1 volume (xxi + 43 pages [illustrated]). 1.9 MB PDF (suitable for viewing online) | 7.5 MB PDF (suitable for printing)

Report on the Central Awqaf Library and Report on the Central Library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriya, by Zain Al-Naqshbandi.

Names and Contact Information for Senior Administrators and Librarians at Institutions in Iraq

Bosnian Libraries: Their Fate in the War and Responses to it, with Lessons for Iraq, by Jeff Spurr. (Paper originally presented at the Special Advocacy Session, "Cultural Heritage in a Time of War", of the College Art Association (CAA) annual conference, Seattle, WA, 20 February, 2004)

The Iraqi Jewish Archive Preservation Report is now available. This document is published here with the kind permission of the authors and The National Archives & Records Administration.

Library of Congress Mission To Baghdad. Report on the National Library and the House of Manuscripts, October 27-November 3, 2003

Preliminary bibliography of books documenting the contents of the Iraq Museum, the National Library and Archives, and the MS collection of the Ministry of Religious Endowments - all in Baghdad - as well as of other damaged or destroyed collections in Baghdad or elsewhere in Iraq including Mosul, Basrah, Suleimaniyeh, etc.

Iraq Manuscript Collections, Archives, & Libraries: Situation Report [The author of the report, Nabil al-Tikriti, is a doctoral candidate in the Dept of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the U. of Chicago and is familiar with Iraqi manuscript collections from previous research trips before the war. His report on his recent site visits and interviews in Baghdad provides the first assessment since the end of the war of the state of libraries and manuscript collections in Iraq and of the nature and extent of damage to these institutions and their holdings.]

List of Manuscript Catalogs of Iraqi Museums and Libraries, by Shayee Khanaka, Univ. of California, Berkeley
[This is a list of manuscript catalogs of Iraqi Museums and Libraries, including the Libraries that own each item by FirstSearch Symbols. At the end of the list is a key to Library symbols. Additional information is requested from anyone who can supply it.]

Iraqi Library Stamps.
The aim of this project is to collect images (scanned photographs or photocopies) of library stamps and other ownership marks used by various libraries and manuscript collections in Iraq and make these images available on the Internet.

Pictures of Damaged Libraries in Iraq.
The photographs presented here document damage to libraries in Iraq during and after the war in April 2003. Most of them are provided by Nabil al-Tikriti, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. They were taken during his trip to Baghdad on 25-31 May 2003. They accompany his report: Iraq Manuscript Collections, Archives, & Libraries: Situation Report, dated 8 June 2003. The remaining photographs were taken by McGuire Gibson, Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. He was a member of the UNESCO team which visited Baghdad in May 2003.

Useful documents produced by other individuals or organizations

The Tale of Iraq's 'Cemetery of Books', by Saad Eskander. [This is an edited version of Saad Eskander's keynote speech at the Internet Librarian International 2004 conference held in London in October 2004] Published in the on-line edition of Information Today, Vol. 21 No. 11 - December 2004. Note also the power point slideshows associated with this talk, especially Cleaning and Reorganizing.

USAID-Iraq HEAD: Higher Education and Development for Archaeology and Environmental Health Research, SUNY at Stony Brook: Libraries and Facilities Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17- 22 December, 2003

An earlier version of the above, without illustrations, was distributed on IraqCrisis on January 8, 2004: The USAID-Iraq HEAD-Stony Brook University Program in Archaeology and Environmental Health Libraries Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17-22 December, 2003, by E. Christian Filstrup, Director of Libraries, Stony Brook University. [This is the Library portion of a report on the trip by the USAID funded Stony Brook University team funded by USAID]

Assessment of Iraqi cultural heritage: Libraries and archives, by Jean-Marie Arnoult. [Report submitted to UNESCO by M. Jean-Marie Arnoult, following his participation in the second UNESCO mission to Iraq]. Photographs accompanying the report by Jean-Marie Arnoult [At the time this link was made these photographs seem to work most effectivley with Internet Explorer]

Opening the Doors: Intellectual Life and Academic Conditions in Post-War Baghdad. A Report of the Iraq Observatory, 15 July 2003, by Keith Watenpaugh, Edouard Méténier, Jens Hanssen, and Hala Fattah. [This is a 30-page pdf document and is also available at IFLANET].

Keith Watenpaugh's report, distributed on 30 June 2003 on the IraqCrisis list (and others) Preliminary Report on the Condition of the National Library A team of historians including Hala Fattah, Edouard Méténier, Jens Hanssen and Keith Watenpaugh has just returned from 8 days in Baghdad.

The Fate of Iraqi Libraries: What Has Happened & What Can Be Done, by Edouard Méténier, Institut Français du Proche-Orient - Damas, Université de Provence / IREMAM. This is the full revised text of a presentation to the MELCOM-International conference in Beirut in May 2003 (delivered in the author's absence by Geneviève Joly). It is published on the MELCOM-International website, and has been updated to take account of more recent information up to ca.11 June 2003.

Edouard Méténier's comments, made on 11 May 2003 on the IraqCrisis list refer to the above mentioned Preliminary bibliography... by numbered item. The version current at that date is archived here for easier reference:

APERCU SUR L'ETAT DES BIBLIOTHEQUES ET DEPOTS D'ARCHIVES IRAKIENS AU TERME DE LA GUERRE D'AVRIL 2003, by Edouard Méténier, Institut Français du Proche-Orient - Damas, Université de Provence / IREMAM

Assessment of damage to Libraries and Archives in Iraq, compiled by Graham Shaw of the British Library. Dated May 1, 2003, this report was published on IFLANET, the website of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions.


All are invited to join IraqCrisis: A moderated list for communicating substantive information on cultural property damaged, destroyed or lost from Libraries and Museums in Iraq during and after the war in April 2003, and on the worldwide response to the crisis. Subscription is free of charge. For further information Click Here

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The MELA Committee on Iraqi Libraries web presence is produced in collaboration with the LOST TREASURES FROM IRAQ project at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, and is hosted at the Institute's website.

Revised: May 21, 2007
Copyright © 2005 Oriental Institute, University of Chicago; Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi Libraries