Twenty-one new Iraqi government-sponsored libraries, to be constructed throughout the provinces, will provide free services to students and researchers, and seek to explain and promote the concept of the new democratic system in Iraq.
Construction of the new libraries, which started in the beginning of April, will cost 22 billion dinars ($18.9 million), Nihad al-Abbasi, Iraq's government advisor for scientific affairs, told Mawtani.
The libraries, aside from their basic role as houses for knowledge, will be places for teaching political sciences, restraint from violence and extremism, and promoting the democratic system in Iraq, "because there is confusion among Iraqi youth on this issue", he said.
Each building will be three stories and will house a reading room, another for conferences, a hall for film projections and a cafeteria. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The libraries -- which may house as many as 100,000 books -- will include research that discusses the phenomena of extremism, radicalism and terror.
The project is receiving direct support from the United Nations and Britain, al-Abbasi said.
Abdullah al-Jubury, scientific advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Education, told Mawtani the construction of these libraries "comes at a time when Iraqi society is witnessing a drop in reading rates among the young, and students at universities and institutes cannot find modern, first-class libraries".
He said the new libraries will be "scholarly and cultural edifices which will act as reference for Iraqis to help them understand and interpret many aspects of public and political life in the new Iraq".
"The libraries will be like palaces for culture in the centre of every Iraqi province, will be open until four o'clock in the afternoon and will have a staff of employees, professors [available for consultation] and approved religious scholars," al-Jubury said.
The libraries will also organise programmes and conferences hosting professors from Iraqi and well-known European universities, as well as experts from the United Nations, to discuss the concepts of freedom, democracy, environment, health, religion, inter-religious dialogue and the economy, he said.
Dr. Khalid al-Ani, chairman of the department of libraries at Baghdad University, said the construction of the new library buildings is "an important step in building up anew the personality of the Iraqi individual".
"Many Iraqi youths depend on the internet to retrieve data and are exposed to views which are not necessarily correct, and may cause serious flaws in the process of learning and social life in Iraq," he told Mawtani.
To counter this trend, these libraries will be like "scholarly cafés" in which the young will meet, al-Ani said.
Constructing the libraries is only the beginning and "the next budget of 2013 will witness the construction of double this number", said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesperson.
"Nurturing Iraqi thought, correcting the course of the educational process and regaining Iraq's status as a first in the Arab region in terms of reading, printing, publishing and authorship is a priority for the Iraqi government," he said.