ALQOSH, Iraq — In the village of Sirishka in Alqosh District, northeast of Mosul, Iraq, the collection of a private cultural library is slowly but steadily growing.
The library, which serves Sirishka as well as surrounding villages, is the work of Janan Shaker Elias, a young Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian woman.
She spends several hours daily in her library of roughly 1,500 books from various genres and disciplines. Alongside its usual functions, the library also operates a small bookshop and a free cultural forum which hosts daily social groups.
“The idea of opening the library came about due to my continuous need for books,” Elias jokingly told media outlets. “There is no library in our area, and I was obliged to buy books online from Baghdad and Duhok [Nohadra], paying delivery costs and having to wait long periods for delivery.”
Although the Islamic State (ISIS) was not able to control Alqosh District and its villages, it took control of the nearby Telskof District in 2014, forcing the residents of Sirishka village to flee for over a year to Nohadra Governorate, only able to return following the village’s liberation.
While displaced, the idea of opening a library stuck in Janan’s mind, but she was unable to open it due to the displacement and her university study. Once she returned to the village and completed her studies, she began work on the library.
Through the library, Janan hopes to encourage more people to read and to spread cultural awareness among members of society, highlighting the importance of reading in self-development and social progress.