Shafaq News / Residents of Al-Fallujah, the largest city in Al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq, still refer to the public library in the center of the city near the main market – despite being destroyed - as a hallmark of the place.
This large library became a waste yard after it was destroyed during the war against ISIS. Controversy over the fate of the library's rare books, documents, and precious manuscripts started among those who say they were "stolen" and others who say they have been "destroyed".
The Al-Fallujah Public Library - built in the 1950s - was a comprehensive knowledge project that included reading halls and seminar and lecture rooms enriched by tens of thousands of various sciences' titles. The project was completed in early 1958, turning it into a major knowledge and scientific turning point that compensated Al-Anbar's people for traveling to Baghdad to acquire books.
So far, there are no signs of reviving the library by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture – as it has taken over the responsibility of public libraries - amid concerns that the library's land will be transformed into a mall or a market; following the malls' fever that has prevailed in the city for two years.
"The public library was a prestigious library and served as a cultural and literary forum for the intellectuals of Al-Fallujah and the governorate in general", journalist Asim Al-Bakkar told Shafaq News agency.
Al-Bakkar added that he hoped to, "rehabilitate and restore the house that brought Al-Anbar's writers and intellectuals together".
"If we want to build a conscious society, and to achieve a transition and a qualitative leap in the growth of youth thinking as well as keep them away from places crowded with smoke and cigarettes, we have to rebuild the public library", Salam Al-Mohammadi, a writer who considers the library "the identity of the city" told Shafaq News agency, "It would be the meeting point of the conscious youth that is looking for a future, through which society will rise".
Majid Al-Jubouri, director of the Al-Fallujah Cultural House, said that his foundation has repeatedly demanded to rehabilitate the public library since the liberation of the city, "Despite the reconstruction witnessed in the governorate, the local government in Al-Anbar has so far shown no interest in rehabilitating cultural facilities".
Al-Jubouri reiterated his call for "the rehabilitation of the public library in Al-Fallujah, as it is one of the most important cultural and scientific monuments in Al-Anbar".
Samia'a Al-Ghallab, chairman of the Parliamentary Culture and Media Committee, said her committee, "Seeks to restore the public library in Al-Fallujah -Although it belongs administratively to the governorate's administration".
"There is a trend to rehabilitate and restructure all public libraries in the country. The Parliamentary Culture and Media Committee will hold a position in this regard to encourage young people, students, and readers to visit libraries - as they used to in the 1970s and 1980s".