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NYU Announces Project to Create Arabic Collections Online, An Arabic-Language Digital Public Library

April 10, 2013
N-257, 2012-13

Five-year project aims to digitize up to 153,000 volumes per year from each partner institution.

New York University Libraries, a leader in digital library development, has announced the creation of Arabic Collections Online (ACO), a major project to create a publicly available, digital library of public-domain Arabic language content.  NYU Libraries will create a website for the project to make the content accessible to the public worldwide.

Funded by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), this mass digitization project aims to expose up to 153,000 volumes from NYU and partners per year from each institutions over for a period of five years.

“We are delighted that we and NYU Abu Dhabi can make this major contribution to scholarship and bring great library collections of Arabic materials to a wide audience,” says Dean of Libraries Carol A. Mandel.

NYU and the partner institutions will contribute all types of material—literature, business, science, and more--from their Arabic language collections. NYU Libraries Digital Library Technology Services will develop and manage the on-line interface, creating a web portal accessible to the public around the world.

“Arabic Collections Online brings the rich content of Arabic publications held in American libraries not only to universities worldwide, but to secondary schools and readers throughout the Arabic speaking world,” notes Ginny Danielson, director of the NYUAD library.  “It truly enhances reading and research opportunities for Arabic speakers globally.”

ACO will provide access to printed books drawn from rich Arabic collections of prominent American libraries. Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton Universities are among the partners in the project with NYU.  It is very likely that some of the books ACO will digitize may not be available elsewhere in any format.

“The scope of the ACO digitization project is unprecedented, and its potential for democratizing access to printed Arabic materials will make it an important first-stop for future scholars,” said Elias Muhanna, Assistant Professor Comparative Literature & Middle East Studies, Brown University.

NYU chose the initial partners based on their extensive Arabic language collections and their commitment to high standards of digital preservation. The libraries of Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, and NYU have collaborated on a variety of digital access projects. NYU is in discussion with other institutions to include their participation in the project.

The NYU Division of Libraries comprises five libraries in Manhattan and one each in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, houses more than four million volumes and received 3 million visits last year. Around the world the Libraries offers access to more than 800,000 electronic journals, books, and databases; its website received 2.4 million visits last year. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit

NYU Abu Dhabi consists of a highly selective liberal arts and science college (including engineering) and a world center for advanced research and scholarship — all fully integrated with each other and connected to NYU in New York. Together, NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi form the backbone of a unique global network university, with faculty and students from either New York or Abu Dhabi spending “semesters away” at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on five continents.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Division of Libraries, NYU Abu Dhabi

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Christopher James | (212) 998-6876

NYU Announces Project to Create Arabic Collections Online, An Arabic-Language Digital Public Library

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