[Iraqcrisis] Baghdad Libraries Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17-22 December, 2003

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  • From: Charles E. Jones <cejo@midway.uchicago.edu>
  • Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 12:27:48 -0600
  • Subject: [Iraqcrisis] Baghdad Libraries Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17-22 December, 2003
  • To: Iraqcrisis@listhost.uchicago.edu
  • Message-Id: <p05210608bc234e9db6bc@[]>
Following is the Library portion of a report on the trip by the USAID 
funded Stony Brook team 
Forwarded at the request of the author.

The USAID-Iraq HEAD-Stony Brook University Program in Archaeology and 
Environmental Health
Libraries Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17-22 December, 2003

E. Christian Filstrup, Director of Libraries, Stony Brook University

Subsequent to the first USAID-Iraq HEAD Program meeting, held in 
Amman, Jordan 15-16 December 2003, a team from the State University 
of New York at Stony Brook, including myself, Elizabeth Stone 
(Director) and Jennifer Pournelle (Asst. Director) of the Archaeology 
Project; and Wajdy Hailoo (Director) and Shawky Marcus (Asst. 
Director) of the Environmental Health Project visited Baghdad to 
inspect facilities, assess needs, and solicit bids toward execution 
of the Program. A critical component of this effort, aimed at 
restoring Iraq's capacity to conduct higher education in these 
fields, is bringing libraries-including both their holdings and their 
management-up to current graduate standards.

We investigated in some detail the rehabilitation, 
shelving/furnishing, telecommunications infrastructure, and computer 
requirements of the University of Baghdad College of Arts (Kulliyat 
al-Adab) archaeology library and the Mosul University College of Arts 
library, identified electronic resources to deliver to these two 
libraries once they have good Internet connections, profiled their 
printed book and journal needs.  (Prior to our trip, we had 
consolidated lists of in print books and determined procurement 
sources.)  We began investigation of shipping arrangements, and at 
the recommendation of CPA Education Advisor John Agresto will apply 
for military space-available shipment from CONUS to Iraq.

We in principle agreed to help the medical libraries at Mosul 
University and University of Baghdad; Dr. Hailoo and the two deans of 
the medical schools need to work out implementation of wiring and 
purchase of computers.

Wathiq and Nadir Hindo (Neareast Resources ), who provided logistical 
support to the Library of Congress team that visited Baghdad in 
October 2003,  arranged accommodation at the Coral Palace Hotel, 
provided vehicles, bodyguards, and translators, and accompanied us to 
meetings.  They will provide bids for facilities renovation and 
installing high speed internet access and computers (sample: see 
left), and for delivery of print materials arriving from CONUS. We 
have also solicited competitive bids from other providers.

A big question, relevant to all Iraqi university and research 
libraries, is whether to install integrated library systems now or to 
start with simple cataloging systems such as WINISIS and later move 
the data to more a sophisticated ILS.  DOS cultural affairs officer 
John Russell referred us to his colleague, Wishyar Muhammad (now 
involved in relocating the arson-damaged national library and in 
conserving of its water-damaged documents), and to Dr. Faiza Adib at 
the Mustansiriyah University library for advice. Clearly, we should 
coordinate technical solutions among the several DOS and USAID-funded 
library initiatives. We recommend a separately-funded (DOS?) workshop 
that would bring to Iraq Arab library information technology 
specialists, perhaps from the Gulf States which enjoy a number of 
highly computerized university and research libraries.

Details of meetings and site visits, with first steps to be executed 
pending final approvals, follow below.

1.1 Museum of Antiquities

While the national museum was famously looted, the museum's library 
director Zainat al-Samakri and her staff managed to save its library 
collections. The staff is presently unboxing these and, with 
Department of State funding, the library will soon be wired for 
computers and Internet connectivity.

1.2 University of Baghdad

1.2.1 College of Arts

Assistant Dean Dr. Tomas described the looting that stripped the only 
graduate humanities library in the country of computers, furniture, 
and appliances-and the conflagration that reduced to white ash its 
entire collection of 175,000 volumes and manuscripts. Avidly 
pro-technology, where possible he has refit some classrooms and 
common areas, but hopes that USAID will rebuild the main library. He 
is concerned that all attention is being directed to the smaller 
archaeology library, but understands that it would be a model for 
other departments.

1.2.2 Archaeology Department

We met with department chair Prof. Ghazi Rejab, director of research 
Prof. Zuhair, librarian Niran Muhy al-Din, and other faculty and 
students, who have moved the departmental collection to two rooms on 
the first floor, are now undertaking a hand-written inventory. Some 
4500 (mostly Arabic, and few post-dating 1980) books and journals 
suffered smoke damage in the April riots, and the entire card catalog 
was lost. Agreed immediate needs include:

1. Turn the outside corridor into an adjacent reading room.

2. Rehab both spaces with shelves for books and current journals, 
tables, chairs, a photocopy machine, computers with internet 
connections and a printer, and air conditioning. We plan to begin 
wiring in February.

3. Clean, inventory, and properly shelve the collection.

4. Procure printed materials since 1980-books, journals, American 
dissertations, and maps. Students stressed the need for publications 
on the entire ancient Near East. Faculty stressed the need to include 
Islamic-era archaeological materials. We will send materials; the 
librarian will receive and register them and put them into use.

5. Bind or wrap the paperbound materials, and digitize or bind 
photocopies of deteriorated books.

6. Computerize the catalog and give the librarian and her students 
training in basic computer skills and in the specific library 
software. She will send me a regular report (in Arabic?).

7. Add a departmental computer lab on the second floor.

1.2.3 College of Medicine

I met with library head Maryam Abd al-Karim Nazo, in the office of 
Dean Hikmat Sha'rbaf (not present). The library was badly looted in 
April, losing the most important part of its book collections (about 
8,000 volumes), all of its computers, and its entire computerized 
catalog, which it will rebuild when it receives computers.

The library is one of five Baghdad medical libraries that use 
WINISIS- UNESCO-sponsored library software that manages monographs-to 
catalog its books. It requires outside software support and searches 
only by keyword, but is fairly simple to use and supports both Arabic 
and Roman script entry and display. The medical library had several 
important medical indexes on CD, including, Silver Platter's Medline, 
which, with 25 journals, the library receives free of charge from 
WHO. Ms. Nazo has taught Medline searching skills for the Ministry of 
Health and said she would be willing to train Mosul University 
librarians. Immediate needs are:

1. Redo the wiring in the library and install some computers;

2. Put in a CD tower to manage Silver Platter and other databases on CDs;

3. Order post-1995 environmental health books;

4. Subscribe to a basic set of print or electronic environmental 
health journals,

5. Establish a document delivery service for environmental health 
articles found on indexes but not held at the library.

1.3 Mosul University

Mosul University has a main library and 24 branches. Like other Iraqi 
university libraries, it has purchased almost nothing since 1990, 
adding mostly gifts of journals. The library was looted of all its 
computers and printers, but its collections are intact.

1.3.1 College of Arts

We met with Prof. Muhammad-Basil Al-Azzawi, Dean of the College of 
Arts (including archaeology, translation, and library science); Prof. 
Ali Yasin of Archaeology and Cuneiform studies; and university 
library director Mahmud Jirjis. The library consists of a main 
library and 24 branch libraries, including the medical library.  All 
told, the main and branch libraries have 140,000 volumes and 3500 
journal subscriptions but no current foreign subscriptions.  The 
library escaped serious looting or vandalism in April.  Jirjis has a 
staff of 80 of which 10 have professional skills. The library 
catalogs new books and keeps track of serial publications on a 
cardex. One graduate student is good with computers, could learn a 
computer system and train the others, and Jirjis plans to hire her 
when she finishes her library science degree at Mosul. We will try to 
visit the Mosul campus in early 2004. Immediate needs are:

1. Purchase for the library 10 computers and printers, provide the 
library and the archaeology department with internet connections, and 
connect the two with wireless.

2. Send books and journals. Jirjis will receive and catalog the 
materials and send regular reports. Dean Al-Azzawi will give him an 
email address.

3. Subscribe to Anthropological Literature online, and figure out 
document delivery later.

1.3.2 College of Medicine

Mr. Mahmud Ayyub, head of the medical library, has a technical 
services staff and is ready to process any materials we can send him. 
The library seats 100 and has 14,000 books and 150 journals, 
including some foreign journals, but all come as gifts. There is 
Internet access in a central university office, but none in the 
library. Staff at the public health center that Hailoo is 
establishing at the University of Baghdad will assist with 
communication and logistics. Immediate needs are:

1. Hailoo (SBU) will contact the Mosul University Medical College 
dean to get the library wired for computers and Internet access.

2. Once that is in place, we will purchase 10 computers for the 
library to support all aspects of medical education and research. The 
dean of the medical college is responsible for their installation and 
support and for basic computer training.

3. For environmental health subjects only, Ayyub will send ILL 
requests to SBU. This probably will have to be via email when that is 

4. Once the computers are functioning, Filstrup will arrange for 
Medline training, probably from the Baghdad U. Medical Librarian.

5. SBU will subscribe to a core set of environmental health journals 
for the medical library and will begin shipment of environmental 
health books published in the last five years. SBU arrange transport 
to Iraq; Hailoo and the dean of the medical college will arrange for 
transportation from the port of entry to the university.

Chuck Jones
IraqCrisis Moderator

Received on Thursday, 8 January 2004 13:56:18 UTC