Faculty Spotlight

Connecting Culture and Knowledge Through Libraries

SLIS faculty train librarians in Iraq.

The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) has trained librarians and archivists in Iraq since 2004. After the American invasion, SLIS received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other sources to assist Iraqis in the rebuilding of their libraries. Professor Emeriti Pat Oyler and Professor Harvey Varnet met with librarians to support them in the endeavor. Two of the early trainees, Falah Almosalhi ’13PhD and Abdulateef Khairi ’13PhD, later earned their doctorates from Simmons.

In October, Adjunct Caryn Anderson ’05MS and Professor and Dean Emerita Michèle V. Cloonan spent two and a half weeks in Sulimaniyah, Iraq, training a group of librarians from the University of Kerbala. They both have experience working in Iraq — Anderson worked at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2009-2012.

Art from stone garden in Iraq.
Stone garden in Iraq.

“Much has changed in Iraq but much has remained the same,” says Cloonan, “Universities are growing, but the country’s ongoing struggle against ISIS has meant that universities have little to spend on modernization or on libraries. Still, the desire to improve library services and resources is strong.” 

Anderson and Cloonan were able to introduce the Iraqi librarians to new approaches to managing electronic resources. The librarians were also eager to learn about open access resources and digital repositories.

“We look forward to continuing our work with our esteemed colleagues,” Cloonan says of the partnership. “And we hope for a bright future in Iraq.”

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