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Middle East Digital Library Workshop

Information infrastructure is developing rapidly in many parts of the world. The lack of ready access to information inhibits communication by Middle Eastern countries among themselves and with other nations and also restrains progress in all fields of scientific endeavor as well as in other scholarly activities and in education. The development of a digital information infrastructure, and of dedicated linkages to global science and technology networks, the creation of digital content relating specifically to the cultural heritage of the Middle East, and examination of the increasing significance of libraries and technology in the Knowledge Society, would serve as a catalyst to advance scientific research, education, community development and the preservation and appreciation of Middle Eastern culture.

Both the US Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and NSF (National Science Foundation) are interested in supporting the creation of a knowledge repository, or digital library, of the cultural heritage resources of the Middle East. Such a resource could not only facilitate access to related cultural heritage resources in different types of institutions throughout the world but could also serve as a security and preservation repository in the case of theft or loss of physical resources.

BA has partnered with the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to hold a U.S.-Egypt workshop to be held in Egypt, to help lay the foundation for development of a core infrastructure and creation of initial content for a Digital Library of the Middle East, and for implementation of dedicated linkages to global science and technology networks.

Funded through NSF, the workshop will be administered on the Egyptian side by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in partnership with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and will be held at BA. BA and MCIT will identify and invite approximately 25 participants, from Egypt and the Middle East, and arrange for their attendance. The U.S. agencies will identify and invite a similar number of U.S. participants and arrange for their participation in the workshop. The selected participants will encompass discipline scholars including digital library experts, computer scientists, in addition to physical and cultural anthropologists, archeologists and digital library curators. After initial presentations by both American and Egyptian experts defining the issues, breakout interest groups will meet to discuss more focused issues. The goal will be to prepare a joint report and suggest future collaboration between the two sides.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Establish a rationale for the project and articulate a long-term vision;
  • Identify the current status and information infrastructure needs in the Middle East;
  • Examine the potential for advanced research network connections to Middle East countries;
  • Identify technologies and methodologies to address content creation, management and preservation needs;
  • Identify the disciplinary and interdisciplinary research needs to be addressed as the information infrastructure is developed, and that will result from the development of the infrastructure;
  • Produce a report identifying areas for future collaboration between U.S. and Egypt (as well as with other countries in the area) for consideration by funding sources in these countries.

A planning meeting took place August 4 2005 in preparation for the workshop to be held in BA from 15 to 17 January 2006. Participants in the planning meeting included members of the workshop coordinating committee and representatives of U.S. Federal agencies.

Workshop coordinating committee members are shown below:

  • Dr. Joyce Ray ,
    Associate Deputy Director for Library Services,
    U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Magdy Nagi,,
    Head of the Information and Communication Technology Sector,
    Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • Dr. Noha Adly ,
    ICT and ISIS Director,
    Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • Dr. Ron Larsen ,
    Dean and Professor,
    School of Information Sciences,
    University of Pittsburgh
  • Mr. Ken Hamma ,
    Executive Director,
    Digital Policy and Initiatives,
    J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Dr. Joan Lippincott ,
    Associate Executive Director,
    Coalition for Networked Information
  • Stephen M. Griffin,
    Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
    Program Director: Special Projects Digital Libraries Initiative
    National Science Foundation

Workshop Agenda

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