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March 10, 2011

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University of Kurdistan Hawler Students: Proud Accomplishment

Kurdishaspect..com - By Amed Demirhan

I have been in Kurdistan since September 2006. The changes and development in Kurdistan should make everyone in the Kurdistan Federal Region proud. Naturally changes are not without obstacles, short comings, and problems. Many things could and should have been done better and I am among those who say we should know better and do better.  UKH is a public university founded in 2006 by then former Pre Minister of Kurdistan Federal Region. In this article I will talk about the accomplishments and dedication of students of the University of Kurdistan Hawler (UKH).

There are many way to assess the students’ dedication and accomplishments, but one way is how much reading and research they are doing. Therefore, I will evaluate the students’ use of the library in comparison to others. UKH had about 415 students and staff in 2010. They borrowed 9,971 books and other from library this makes 24 items per students and staff. They downloaded 20,284 full text academic articles from UKH Library subscribed databases equating to about 49 articles per capita. Furthermore, UKH is the only University from Istanbul to Mecca and from Tehran to Damascus that offers unrestricted Internet access. In addition to wired desktop computers, it also offers wireless internet access. Students and staff have many open access sources, such as YouTube, podcast and open access journals and courseware from leading universities, Google Scholar, and other online sources. The usage statistics of these sources are not included in the above statistics. 

If we compare this to Iraqi National Library (INL), when it was in its zenith 1977, one could see a better picture. In 1977 INL moved to its new three million (USD) dollar building with 75 staff and 98, 000 volumes of books. (p.6)  It served the greater Baghdad population and students as well. Despite its size in comparison with UKH, we chose to compare our student’s usage with them.  The same report (1) indicates, in 1977, a total of 35,780 people visited the INL library, of which 86% of them were students. The total number of books consulted was only 14,153. This reveals only 0, 4 items per person were consulted. The author of that report wrote: “During the mission, the consultant regularly visited the reading room two three times a day and found that at no time were there more than 20 to 30 seats occupied out of 300 available seats.” (p.18) .  In other words, there were fewer users than the number of library employees. Apparently during exam weeks more seats were used. 

To compare the UKH students internationally, they are at the same level as Easter European students or better in library usage, but we are below the British level - which we are aiming to achieve. In the 2003 – 2004 study years,  United Kingdom academic libraries averaged 54 items checked out per student.

 Unfortunately, Iraqi Universities and libraries are not much better now than in 1977. One comfortably could say that the UKH students’ research skills, study habits, and reading, is much superior to any other university in Kurdistan and Iraq. There is a way to go to accomplish our goal of achieving the highest international standards in regard to library usage. Nevertheless, our students are far ahead of rest of the country. Naturally the credit goes to the dedicated UKH teaching staff, administration, and library cooperation for the success of the students. One can’t help but be proud of these dedicated, motivated, and successful young people.

Amed Demirhan, MLIS., MADR Director of the UKH Library Hawler – Kurdistan Federal Region – Iraq e-mail: ameddemirhan@hotmail.com

[1] Iraq Operational activities in the field of information National Library of Iraq, Baghdad by D.R. Khalia

UNESCO

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0003/000362/036235eb.pdf Retrieved March 10, 2011 

[1] ind [1] Section 3 Academic Library Statistics p.139 http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/dils/lisu/downloads/als05-s3-p114-147.pdf Retrieved March 10, 2011

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