The Library of Congress and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on April 9 announced a partnership to promote research of the history of science in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The Library and the university together will convene an international advisory committee of leading scholars and curators to map out a strategy for identifying, selecting, digitizing, cataloging, annotating and promoting scholarly research about manuscripts and other rare and unique materials relating to science in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and for including these materials in the World Digital Library (WDL) and other digital library projects.
The partnership will enable the university, an international, graduate-level research university opening in Saudi Arabia in 2009, to complement its academic and research programs in cutting-edge science and engineering with research and outreach programs aimed at giving students and faculty an appreciation of the rich history of scientific inquiry and discovery in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
KAUST also intends to play a collaborative, facilitating role internationally to support the efforts of universities, libraries and museums around the world whose collective work is essential to further scholarship in this area.
The partnership will allow the Library of Congress to work with KAUST and its WDL partners to develop the history of science in the Arab and Islamic worlds as a theme in the WDL, to be launched at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in early 2009.
The National Library and Archives of Egypt and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina are already WDL partners, and they contributed to the development of the WDL prototype that was shown at the UNESCO General Conference in October 2007. The partnership with KAUST will assist the Library of Congress and its WDL partners in tapping into the most authoritative international scholarship in the field.
“The cooperation with KAUST will help us to engage leading scholars and curators from the Islamic world, Europe and the United States in developing this important element of the WDL,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We see this not only as important for the particular topic of science in the Arab world, but as a model for bringing together experts from many countries to work together to ensure the highest level of quality as we bring together online the widely scattered primary documents of different cultures for the vast audience using the Internet.”
KAUST’s Interim President, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, said “Part of the vision for KAUST is to serve as a reminder that this is not the first time the Arab world has made great scientific and technological contributions to humankind. Through this partnership with the Library of Congress and with many other universities, museums, and collections around the world, we look forward to helping make this great history of Islamic science and technology available to all people through the World Digital Library.”