Brought to you by the Women Information & Libraries Special Interest Group (WILSIG)

Women in Iraq have been working in libraries for many years and they constitute the majority in library management.  We are honoured to present a number of models recognised for their achievements in the field of library and information science.

Mrs. Zahida Ibrahim Muhammad Agha (1926-2006) – Cataloger and library expert Zahida Ibrahim was born in Baghdad. She  graduated from the Faculty of Law in 1950. UNESCO provided scholarships to a number of students to specialise in library science,  in 1953.  Upon her return, she founded the Central Library at the University of Baghdad. She has a number of books, including:

  • Search for Iraqi newspapers and magazines since the publication of the first Iraqi newspaper until 1976
  • Cataloguing of the illustrated Arabic manuscripts by UNESCO in Iraq, which are located in the Central Library, 1970
  • Press information and archive organization (in collaboration with Amer Ibrahim Qandilji and Nizar Muhammad Qasim) – Baghdad 1978
  • Preparing a list of topics on contemporary Arab topics, under the supervision of the Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science

Her philosophy was, “There is no need for a book that is not read”, and therefore she donated all her books to the Central Public Library, leaving a mark in the field of library work.

In 2018, a group of women established a children’s library in a remote village in southern Iraq, Nasiriyah / Al-Chibayish Governorate, which is a marsh area that depends on livestock raising and did not have a children’s library. Implemented by Thanaa Shaker Hamoudi, Intilaq Muhammad, Raghad Addy, Ruaa Abdul Karim, the idea was based on collecting donations by the group and from publishing houses. The library was established in a corner of reeds and papyrus. The children were hosted and were taught how to make loans  from library. It was a beautiful day in which the children learned the meaning of the library and its importance, and for the first time they found stories, books, colours, available for them.

We cannot forget the role of Mrs. Alia Muhammad (1952-2021), a librarian in  Central Library in Basra, a city in southern Iraq. During the war on Iraq in 2003, Mrs. Alia was the head librarian of the Basra Central Library. Because of her concern for the books and their exposure to bombing and destruction, she transferred and carried books back to her home to protect them. Alia Muhammad was able to rescue more than 30 thousand books, including the manuscript of the biography, one of them dating back about 1,300 years.  She was able to save 70% of this valuable collection, as the library was then completely destroyed during the war.

Author: Dr.thana shakir Hamoodi al abrashy, Middle Technical University, Baghdad. Iraq – Member, Women, Information & Libraries Special Interest Group