NYU’s open access collection can help ease the transition to remote learning for Arabic readers
As remote learning and self-quarantine have become the order of the day, the number of monthly users of NYU Libraries’ Arabic Collections Online (ACO) increased from 50,000 to 350,000 in March. This digital library, a partnership between NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi, is a collection of Arabic-language, public-domain content drawn from distinguished libraries around the world and available to anyone with an internet connection. NYU hopes this resource will ease the transition to remote learning for Arabic readers. Users in March were predominately in the Middle East.
For ACO, NYU is coordinating the digitization of Arabic language books from six leading academic libraries—its own and those of Columbia University, Cornell University, Princeton University, American University of Beirut (AUB), and American University in Cairo (AUC), as well as the National Archives of the UAE.
Originally funded by NYU Abu Dhabi and currently funded by major grants from two private foundations, ACO currently offers nearly 13,000 volumes in more than 7,000 subject categories such as literature, history, law, and Islamic studies, published from the mid-nineteenth century to as late as the 1990s.
“When we began this huge digitization effort, there were relatively few open-access, online resources in Arabic,” said NYU Dean of Libraries H. Austin Booth,“so we always knew ACO would be useful to Arabic-language readers everywhere. Some use it for scholarly research, others for pleasure reading and browsing. We of course did not foresee a time when people around the world would be staying home to such an extent. But we are very glad to be able to offer this wealth of content free to anyone in the world who will find it useful and enjoyable.”
ACO aims to digitize 23,000 volumes from NYU and partner institutions and make them accessible to the public on the ACO website. The project is supported by a $1.34 million grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and by a $500,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Follow ACO on twitter @NYULibrariesACO
NYU’s Digital Library Technology Services developed and manages the on-line interface, a web portal accessible around the world.
The NYU Division of Libraries comprises five libraries in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and one each in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, received 3 million visits last year. The Libraries’ online catalog provides access to a world of content, such as millions of book volumes, e-books, serial titles, oral histories, and documents from more than 43,000 linear feet of archives. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit http://library.nyu.edu
NYU Abu Dhabi is a highly selective liberal arts and science college and a world center for advanced research and scholarship — all fully integrated with one another 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.