Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

30 June 2005

Project Update

Books for Baghdad Collected More than 11,000 Textbooks for Baghdad University

By Dave Howell
News Bureau

With more than 110,000 U.S. troops serving in the Middle East, helping bring freedom to and stability to Iraq, many other Americans here at home have wondered what they can do to assist in the effort. Jacksonville State University's own Dr. Safaa Al-Hamdani, an Iraqi-born American citizen and alumnus of Baghdad University, found one way to do just that.

In 2004 Dr. Hamdani established the Books for Baghdad project, an international effort whose purpose was to help support the education system in Iraq by collecting and donating at least 5,000 textbooks. Since the war, the entire nation has suffered a critical shortage of academic resources and books for its students. Iraqi university libraries were severely depleted and outdated due to two decades of sanctions, regime rule, active conflict, and looting.

Not only did the book drive reach its goal, but it well exceeded this number with a total collection of more than 11,000 textbooks which were donated and shipped to Baghdad University in April. The book drive emphasized math and science books, but they also received many books in English, History and Social Sciences. In addition, the project donated school supplies and teaching materials. Dr. Hamdani hopes the effort will help Baghdad University get back on its feet after decades of decline.

"The government of Saddam did not spend money on education or they did not spend enough," Hamdani said. "Iraq was under sanction by the United Nations for 13 years and in addition to that, many wars took place in Iraq. This caused devastation to the education in Iraq."

Hamdani's home town in Iraq is located in what is now referred to as "the Green Zone." When Hamdani came back to the state after the conclusion of the "Grand War," he saw many libraries being burned down through the looting and chaos.

"I decided to do something for this," he said. With the help of my colleagues and the students here at JSU and with the generosity of a lot of faculty and many universities across the United States and Canada, we succeeded in accomplishing our goal.

The idea to donate textbooks started when Hamdani was in Jordan in 2001-2002 as a Fulbright Scholar. He had the opportunity to meet several faculty members from Baghdad University. They exchanged information and Hamdani found out that most of the textbooks they have are 30 to 40 years old. He took about four boxes of textbooks with him and said the teachers were "very thrilled and happy to receive them."

"Every textbook has a tremendous value, especially if you don't have that specific textbook. So the library of Baghdad University right now is rich with many, many topics. They are very, very appreciative to our effort here at Jacksonville State University in supporting the education in Iraq," Hamdani said.

Hamdani believes that during this tumultuous time in Iraq's rebuilding efforts, the students of Baghdad University will now have reason to remain optimistic. Now that the project is no longer collecting textbooks or monetary donations, the question remains: where do they go from here?

Hamdani said he is currently trying to find out if the Iraqi embassy or any other organization could help them ship the books before collecting more. In addition to the idea to raise more textbooks, he thinks it is equally as important to help the university by establishing a student and faculty exchange program.

The faculty in Baghdad University are really anxious to come to the U.S. and get exposed to the system. They want to be trained and they want to be participating in the rebuilding of Iraq, he said. "They want to find out more about the United States."

Once the security situation stabilizes in the country, Hamdani hopes to establish a scholarship program to encourage Iraqi students to study abroad. I would like to thank all the people who participated in this project," Hamdani said.

"We will take it one step at a time and hopefully in the future, we will accomplish all of our goals."

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at