Dear UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
In 1919, the British Captain Wilfrid Jerome FARRELL (1882-1960)*, who was then in charge of the education administration in Iraq, came to Mosul and published an announcement in Al -Mawsil newspaper calling upon the Mosulis to donate books for his project to build a public library in the city. The people of Mosul immediately responded, and Farrell achieved his goal. A public library then was established and opened thanks to his effort in collaboration with the city. This is so similar to what we’re doing now to revive the libraries of Mosul through the Mosul Eye project that connected the city to the world through books just as Farrell aimed to do.
In 2014, ISIS occupied Mosul and did great damage to the library. In 2017, the governor of Mosul wanted to use the building as a court. We launched a campaign to stop him, and we did!
Now the public library is suffering and is almost abandoned. It had a significant role in establishing public education in Mosul. The library contains some of the rarest documents and manuscripts anywhere in the world. It contains all of the press publications from Mosul since the 18th century and private collections that were donated to Farrell upon his request in 1919. Like the old Iron Bridge of Mosul, also built by the British, the library is an example of cordial relations between Mosul and the UK.
In the absence of the Central Library of the University of Mosul, city residents have no other option, but to use Farrell’s library. They are desperate to get access to the library, which cannot provide its services due to a lack of management and basic library equipment as the current government has stopped funding it.
We now kindly ask you to protect and preserve this historic library.
For the sake of knowledge and the memory of Wilfrid Jerome FARRELL and his family.
Omar Mohammed, Historian and Founder of Mosul Eye
*Please see his publication: “Pedagogue’s progress: reminiscences of Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia,and Palestine.” Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. GB165-0104.