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Watheq Mahmoud is pursuing an advanced engineering degree but the textbooks he needs are often missing in his native Mosul, the Iraqi city where militants burned volumes and destroyed libraries. To track down the books, he has had to travel 400 kilometers south to Baghdad, and even a further 600 kilometers to Basra. For centuries, Mosul was known for its artists and writers, for libraries brimming with books in multiple languages, and for housing Iraq's first printing press.The library even held books in the Syriac language, produced in the 19th century by Iraq's first printing press, across the Tigris River in Mosul's west.The Iraqi government's recapture of Mosul in 2017 facilitated support to restock the libraries, with donated volumes arriving from all over the world.Mosul's main religious archive once housed around 58,000 books.Slowly but surely, the university is restocking: nearly 100,000 books were donated from other colleges and non-governmental agencies, both inside and outside Iraq.
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