Edward Said Public Library: The Story of a Book Found Under Ruins



5 to 7 p.m., Feb. 10, 2020


Mosab Abu Toha is a young writer, poet, and founder of the Edward Said Public Library in Gaza. He currently is a visiting poet and a visiting librarian-in-residence at Harvard University.

In this talk, Mosab will show how a book that he found under the stone rubble of his university that had been bombed led him to establish the first English-language library in Gaza, which opened in the summer of 2017. It became so successful with its many activities that a second branch was opened recently. The Edward Said Library helps children and young adults out of depression and connects them and adult Palestinians to the world through reading and book-related activities.

In his talk, Mosab will also discuss the obstacles he faced in getting books and funds to the library because of the Israeli occupation and its effects on the people of Palestine.

Mosab’s talk will include photos that show how readers of all ages get actively involved in the Edward Said Library. Mosab will be introduced by Noam Chomsky, laureate professor of linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair at the University of Arizona.

This talk is supported by the University of Arizona Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, the Department of English, the Arizona Arabic Flagship Program, the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Harvard’s Scholars-At-Risk Program.

Note: Mosab will give a second talk with Professor Chomsky on Feb. 12.

More about the Speaker

Mosab Abu Toha is a young Palestinian poet from Gaza. A graduate in English language teaching and literature, he enjoys writing stories and poems of his own. Mosab taught English at UNRWA schools in Gaza from 2017 until 2019, and is the founder of the Edward Said Library, Gaza’s first English-language library. As many of Gaza’s libraries were destroyed, he began a campaign in 2014 to collect donations of English-language books. Noam Chomsky, who has donated several autographed books to Mosab and then to the library, described the library as “a unique resource, and what is more a refuge and a rare flicker of light and hope for the young people of Gaza.” In 2019-2020, Mosab is a visiting poet and scholar with Harvard’s Scholar-at-Risk program, hosted by the Department of Comparative Literature. He is also a visiting librarian-in-residence at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Mosab is also a columnist for Arrowsmith Press.


Matthew Abraham