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Rare Books and Special Collections Library

AUC Press Collection

AUC Press logoThe University Archives holds a comprehensive collection of the titles published by the AUC Press. Founded in 1960, the press began as a one-room operation which in its early years had to deal with chronic shortages of paper and ink and outdated equipment. By 1986 the press was publishing 25 titles a year, and had emerged as one of the foremost academic presses in the Middle East. Early titles included K.A.C. Creswell's A Bibliography of the Architecture, Arts, and Crafts of Islam (1961) and AUC professor Otto F.A. Meinardus' 1961 Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Deserts. The Press also started publishing textbooks and scholarly works translated into Arabic, in particular the Arabic version of the Compton’s Illustrated Science Dictionary, published by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1963.

Other books were designed to attract a wide, non-scholarly audience like the American Atomic Energy Commission’s pamphlets on Understanding the Atom or targeted foreigners living in Egypt, like the bestselling Cairo: A Practical Guide. Issuing works by AUC units, like Social Research Center documents and the Journal of Modern Education, represented another important area of activity. In 1972, the Press came to an agreement with future Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz for the publication in English of nine of his novels, and in 1985 became his worldwide agent for translation and other literary rights. Many of the foreign editions of Mahfouz’s works can be found in the library’s Naguib Mahfouz collection.

By the 2000s, the AUC Press was publishing several dozen titles a year and had established itself as the leading English-language publishing house. The collection maintained by the University Archives reflects the publishing focus of the Press, with works on ancient Egypt and archaeology, architecture, language study, history, religion, and contemporary Egyptian society, politics, and culture, as well as travel guides and Arabic literature in translation.