April 14, 2008 Library of Congress and Saudi University Form World Digital Library Partnership
Press Contact: John Sayers, Library of Congress (202) 707-9216 | Jeff Weintraub, KAUST US (202) 828-8836
Contact: John Van Oudenaren, Library of Congress (202) 707-4543 | Abdullah Al-Maghlooth, KAUST (966) 3-862-2310
The Library of Congress and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) today announced a partnership in the history of science in the Arab and Islamic worlds. The Library and KAUST will jointly 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 KAUST, 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 enable 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 major theme in the WDL, which will 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 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 into 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 on-line 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 KAUST's vision is not only to create a world class research university for the 21st century, but also for KAUST 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." The Library of Congress and KAUST will work over the summer to organize the international advisory committee, which will have its first meeting in the fall of 2008. The committee will be part of a network of working groups and committees established by the Library of Congress and UNESCO to plan the development of the WDL. About the Library of Congress The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections. The Library seeks to spark the public’s imagination and celebrate human achievement through its programs and exhibits. In doing so, the institution helps foster the informed and involved citizenry upon which American democracy depends. The Library serves the public, scholars, members of Congress and their staff through its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill. Many of the rich resources and treasures of the Library may also be accessed through its award-winning Web site at www.loc.gov. In cooperation with UNESCO and major libraries and cultural institutions around the world, the Library of Congress is leading an effort to establish a World Digital Library that will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world. Information about the WDL can be found at www.worlddigitallibrary.org. About KAUST King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, in the region and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premiere universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. KAUST will be merit-based, open to men and women from all cultures around the world, and governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009. For more information about KAUST, visit www.kaust.edu.sa.