Consultant Preservation for Mousl Library

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Baghdad, Iraq

The Mosul University library was extensively damaged during the conflict with ISIL/Da’esh. The space once housed more than one million books, periodicals, manuscripts, and government publications from as early as the 1920s. As a house of learning and knowledge at the center of the University, the Library was among the first institutions targeted by ISIL/Da’esh after their occupation of Mosul in 2014. The Library was deliberately set on fire, almost all of its collection was destroyed, and its building was severely damaged. In the absence of the central library, more than 60,000 students, university lecturers, and staff did not have easy access to the required literature for their research and academic projects. UNESCO aims to build resilience and promote rapid recovery and transition in Mosul. Education provides physical, psychosocial, and cognitive protection that can sustain and save lives during a crisis. Education remains a fundamental human right, and quality learning opportunities should be available for all ages. The Mosul University library plays an important role in realizing this objective by supporting the revival of the spirit of Moslawi youth, ensuring access to a safe learning environment, especially for young girls, and fostering peaceful coexistence among the youth of Mosul. The physical infrastructure rehabilitation of the Central Library was completed in February 2022, but the operationalization of the library requires urgent support to put in place the necessary measures for designing library functionalities and providing the modern tools and instruments necessary to effectively perform those functionalities from acquisition to archiving and digitization of the existing old and new library materials and holdings. Additionally, technical and professional capacity strengthening of the library staff through tailored practical training programs is essential. Currently, the gaps within institutional and professional capacities of the Central Library undermine the wider investment and prospects of the university in offering a holistic approach to learning and research.
Project Objectives, Results and key Activities:
With the overall objective of making the Mosul University Library fully functional and ensuring that it is perceived as an essential knowledge resource and a cultural connecting place, UNESCO will implement the following activities:
  • Capacity-building: Develop and implement a training program for more than 87 Library staff in various areas such as access to services, acquisitions, cataloging, archive management, conservation, digitization, repository management, reference services, Koha LIS (Library Information System) use and communication. Training will be followed by practical application throughout the project duration. 
  • Application of the LIS: Selection, customization and deployment of an enterprise software solution, covering the Library local functions and remote e-services, including acquisition, warehousing, interchange and virtual integration with other libraries’ content and catalogues, cataloging, classification, collection management, local and remote access and circulation/borrowing/reading/interlibrary loan, reference services, research and instruction, patron and subscriber relation management, management of scanned materials, periodicals, ebooks, rare materials and manuscripts.  The selected LIS to be applied in the library is Koha. The procurement of the system in in progress and expected to be in place by April 2024. 
  • Conservation, restoration, digitization, and indexing/cataloguing: Restoration, preservation, conservation, digitization and bookbinding of rare and other endangered library materials including manuscripts and historical documents, through the establishment of an on-site laboratory with modern chemical and mechanical technologies. 
  • Partnerships: Establishment of partnerships with relevant institutions across the world, thereby reinforcing sustainability of the library’s functions and operations. These partnerships shall, in particular, facilitate the provision of international expert advice and support to capacity building as well as result in agreements on acquisitions of relevant up-to-date knowledge material.
  • The Preservation Consultant will be in charge of the achievement of the 3rd output of the project on Restoration, Preservation and Digitization, and Indexing/Cataloguing of rare books, manuscripts and other materials. He/ She will be working collaboratively with the University of Mosul, and UNESCO team. 
Duties and Responsibilities of Consultant:
Under the overall authority of the Director and UNESCO Representative to Iraq and direct guidance and supervision of the Chief of Education and the Project Officer, UNESCO Iraq Office, the Consultant shall be responsible for leading the materials restoration, conservation and digitization component of the project, through the achievement of the following objectives and tasks: 
Objectives to be achieved by the consultant:
  • Establish books and manuscript preservation center of excellence.  
  • Undertake the needed capacity building for the relevant library staff. 
  • Support and oversee the process of restoring, conserving and digitalizing the library materials. 
  • Monitor, Evaluate and Report the achievements, challenges and lessons learned. 
Main Tasks and responsibilities of the consultant:
  • Design and implement a restoration, conservation and digitization plan, including an assessment of equipment requirements for procurement for the unit establishment, digitization standards, and metadata protocols. 
  • Train the library staff on the use of the unit, including materials restoration and bindery and digitization, archiving and cataloging techniques and workflow management. 
  • Oversee the process and provide on-site mentorship to the relevant library staff.  
  • Establish a digital archive system for efficient storage, retrieval, and maintenance of digitized materials that aligns with Koha library information system.  
  • Oversee the implementation of book bindery procedures, ensuring the use of appropriate materials and methods. 
  • Support UNESCO in implementing an advocacy campaign for collecting the manuscripts from the local owners, for preservation.  
  • Implement preservation techniques to safeguard the physical condition of books, manuscripts and other materials. 
  • Monitor, Evaluate, and Report the achievements, challenges and lessons learned. 
Required Qualifications:
  • Advanced University degree in Library and Information Science, Archival Studies or relevant fields. 
Work Experience:
  • Proven experience, for at least 5 years, in library materials restoration, conservation and digitization projects. 
  • Proven expertise in data migration, with a focus on transitioning physical collections to digital formats while maintaining data integrity within the Koha LIS environment. 
  • Expertise in developing and implementing preservation plans for historical collections. 
  • Demonstrated ability to train and transfer knowledge to library staff. 
  • Ability to adapt to evolving technologies in library digitization and preservation. 
  • Proven track record of successfully leading and managing similar projects, especially those involving rare manuscripts or special collections.  
  • Familiarity with specialized equipment used in digitization.   
  • Very good knowledge of English (written and spoken)