Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Gertrude Bell and the evolution of the library tradition in Iraq.

Johnson, Ian M.


Ian M. Johnson


Paul Collins

Charles Tripp


This paper discusses Gertrude Bell's involvement in the foundation of the Baghdad Public Library and the Iraq Museum Library, shedding light on issues that have surrounded their creation and development. It identifies Muriel Jesse Forbes as the person who actually initiated the concept for the library that, as a result of Bell's energetic support, became the Baghdad Public Library and ultimately the National Library of Iraq. It also reviews Bell's commitment to the development of a library as part of the Iraq Museum, and outlines its growth into a major information resource on the history and archaeology of Iraq. Finally it considers the motives underlying the efforts of Bell and her contemporaries, and their impact on the subsequent development of library and archives services in Iraq.

Start Date Sep 11, 2013
Publication Date Apr 13, 2017
Electronic ISSN 0068-1202
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Pages 257-271
Series Title Proceedings of the British Academy
Series Number 205
Series ISSN 0068-1202
ISBN 9780197266076
Institution Citation JOHNSON, I.M. 2017. Gertrude Bell and the evolution of the library tradition in Iraq. In Collins, P. and Tripp, C. (eds.) Gertrude Bell and Iraq: a life and legacy. Proceedings of the British Academy, 205: proceedings of Gertrude Bell: a life and legacy, 11-13 September 2013, London, UK. Oxford: Oxford University Press [online], pages 257-271. Available from:
Keywords Libraries; Museums; Iraq; Library and archives services
Publisher URL


Downloadable Citations