Rare Books and Special Collections Library

Center of Excellence for the Middle East and Arab Cultures

The Center of Excellence for the Middle East and Arab Cultures is an idea, a vision, and a rational plan for building collections in subject areas the library is well positioned to document, by virtue of its location and the strength of its existing holdings. This involves going beyond the library’s core mission of supporting academic programs at the university to assembling outstanding resources on the society and culture of Egypt and the region that will be of value to researchers from around the world. To do this, the library strives to develop definitive collections in particular areas, such as regional architecture. With holdings like the K.A.C. Creswell Photograph Collection of Islamic Architecture and the personal and professional papers of Hassan Fathy, for example, the library can offer resources indispensable to detailed scholarship in this discipline.

Beyond collecting such resources, striving for a level of excellence also involves providing maximum access for the library’s rich holdings, via Web sites (such as a site on 19th and early 20th century photographs of the Middle East) and publishing (including books on the work of Cairo portrait photographer Van-Leo). In the context of the AUC library system, these goals mirror efforts by other library units to similarly develop excellent holdings in subject areas like Arab literature, regional politics, and desert research.