Artist donates almost 2,000 books to Mosul library

Artist Edmund de Waal is donating almost 2,000 books from his Library Of Exile to Iraq, to help rebuild a collection almost completely destroyed by so-called Islamic State. 

The University of Mosul’s library once housed more than a million books, according to Book Aid International, including rare manuscripts and works from over the centuries. 

Its library was targeted by IS in 2015, after their occupation of Mosul. Books were burned across Mosul in what Unesco called “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history”. 

Library Of Exile is an art installation created by de Waal, featuring exiled writers from Ovid to Judith Kerr and the contemporary. 

Created as a place for contemplation and reading, it was shown at the British Museum as well as at the Venice Biennale. 

The artist and author said: “I am so pleased that the books in the Library Of Exile are going to support the rebuilt University of Mosul Library. 

“Each of the 2,000 volumes have been inscribed by people for whom that particular book matters. 

“This is a collective act of solidarity with those who keep open cultures of tolerance, keep libraries open, and support refugees and those who continue to be forced into exile.” 

The books will be transported to Iraq with the help of Book Aid International and the Iraqi Embassy in London.

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