Rare Books and Special Collections Digitization Project

AUC's Rare Books and Special Collections Library is collaborating with New York University to digitize 3,000 volumes of Arabic language texts. The project is a response to the lack of Arabic-language content available online and aims to provide global access to important Arabic collections. This will enable easier access to the texts for the general public, as well as providing materials for digital humanities projects and research. In addition, many older Arabic books are out of print due to their fragile condition. Digitizing them will preserve the texts for future generations. 

The Arabic Collections Online (ACO) project was established with support from New York University Abu Dhabi and major grants. Contributing partners include New York University, Princeton University, Cornell University, Columbia University, the American University of Beurit and United Arab Emirates National Archives. 

"The partnership discussions began in 2014, though actual photography didn't occur until 2016. They flew myself and two staff members to New York to receive training on a very high-end camera system which was then shipped back to Egypt. With the agreement, we have to produce a certain number of pages per month from books that NYU selects -- all in Arabic and pre-1956. All of the books will be available online at some point, though right now only 361 of the roughly 860 we've photographed are online," explained Ryder Kouba, digital archivist at the Rare Books and Special Collections Library, and one of the staff members working on the ACO project at AUC. 

Currently, ACO provides access to 10,043 volumes across 6,265 subjects, from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries. The digitized library features Arabic-language texts on every subject, including literature, business, science, philosophy, law, religion and more. The ultimate goal is to feature up to 23,000 volumes from the library collections of NYU and other partner institutions.

 Watch this video to learn more about the Library and its digitization project.