‘Interconnected’: Israeli Libraries Sign MOU with UAE’s National Library

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Photo by NLI on 12 March, 2022
By TPS • 13 March, 2022

Jerusalem, 13 March, 2022 (TPS) — A high-level delegation led by Abdulla Majed Al-Ali, Acting Director-General of the National Library and Archives (NLA) of the United Arab Emirates, visited the National Library of Israel (NLI) in Jerusalem for the first time to launch a groundbreaking joint project between the two institutions and discuss future collaboration.

The two institutions will be working together to expand digital access to rare documentation relating to the history of the Persian Gulf region.

The materials, held by NLI, are part of the archive of Hermann Burchardt, a German Jewish scholar and photographer who traveled extensively around the Middle East in the 1890s and 1900s. The collection contains hundreds of pages of correspondence, notes and official documents, as well as dozens of photos from the region.

As part of the collaboration, the NLI has now provided the NLA with digital copies of the materials to include as part of its collection.

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Experts from the two institutions will work together to enrich and expand background information and metadata related to the archive’s contents, including translations, greatly increasing its value to scholars across the globe as a rare reflection of Gulf history.

The NLI’s Islam and Middle East Collection is one of the region’s leading collections of its kind, featuring over 150,000 Arabic volumes, and thousands of manuscripts and rare books in Arabic, Persian and Turkish dating from the 9th to the 20th centuries. In recent years has worked to increasingly open digital access to its holdings, including thousands of pages of historic Arabic press from Ottoman and British Mandatory Palestine; and some 2,500 rare Islamic manuscripts and books, a project made possible with the support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

Al-Ali, Acting Director-General of the NLA of the UAE, stated that the visit to the NLI “aims to enrich our historical holdings, cultural and documentary heritage with photographs and documents which complete the documentation of our glorious history, which we are proud of and strive to save it for the generations to come.

Dr. Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collections at the NLI, stated that the Burchardt archive is “just one example of how interconnected we are. In addition to continued work on our shared history, we look forward to future projects of cultural and educational exchange as well as joint work to harness new technologies for enabling greater access for all knowledge seekers in our region and across the globe.”

Similarly, the first agreement of its kind for academic cooperation was signed on Thursday between the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library of the University of Haifa and the NLA.

The collaboration will focus on the exchange of researchers and experts, archival research, and exchange of collections, providing access to the resources of the libraries for researchers from both institutions and holding joint events and conferences.

The agreement was signed by the President of the University of Haifa, Prof. Ron Rubin and Al-Ali

The MOU “symbolizes the breaking of research boundaries in the Middle East,” said Dr. Moran Zaga, head of the Middle East section of the Research Authority, University of Haifa. “Many materials that were blocked to the Israeli research community will now be accessible, and vice versa.”

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