LALORC project description

The mission of American Overseas Research Centers (AORCs) is to foster US research and education on the countries where they are located. The AORCs' collaborative Local Archives and Libraries project, funded since 2005 by TICFIA through a grant to the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS), has helped meet the critical need for access to little-known and specialized local archival/library resources in foreign countries where AORCs are located or have programs. The project goal was to identify archival/library collections in the countries where AORCs are established and to partner with them and with the AORCs' existing local institutional and academic connections in making focused field efforts to provide access to this rich, previously inaccessible material.

The strength of the project's collaborating institutions lies in their global distribution, access to local sources, and cooperation with CAORC’s Digital Library for International Research (DLIR). The project's fieldwork component was carried out through a systematic program of local library surveys, collection assessment, prioritized cataloging, and selective preservation and digitization. Central support was provided by 2 US partners: the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), whose DLIR coordinator was project coordinator, and the Center for Research Libraries. Centralized project management tasks included coordinating the AORCs' work, receiving and treating digital objects produced by the local projects, and obtaining outside services for tasks that could not be handled in-house. Dissemination of the collected material is via the existing infrastructure of CAORC's DLIR.

Some participating AORCs used TICFIA funding for basic project costs, matched by their own monies; others contributed to project deliverables without using TICFIA funds as seed money. LALORC project work was staggered over the 4-year grant period in a pattern determined by the serial availability of matching funds. The nature of individual LALORC project components varied according to local situations and priorities. Local project goals included: identifying and surveying local collections using a centrally-established online survey form (Israel, West Bank, Turkey, Pakistan, Mexico); selecting collections for detailed cataloging (Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Mongolia); identifying material to be digitized and preparing the digital objects for web presentation (West Africa, Tunisia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka). All the projects collected existing metadata and captured new data, and prepared it for appropriate public dissemination. The bulk of the grant's first few years was devoted to collecting and processing information for eventual public dissemination, which was mostly implemented during the project's final years.

The project components include:

  • Yemen: AIYS partnered with the Yemen Center for Studies and Research to catalog and put on the Internet YCSR’s extremely important collection of Arabic titles, many not available elsewhere. 21,979 titles were processed and are available through the DLIR online public access catalog.
  • West Africa: The West African Research Center in Senegal worked locally and regionally to collect local language books, digitized them, and published them through DLIR
  • Turkey: The American Research Institute in Turkey-Ankara surveyed 54 local libraries.
  • Tunisia: The Centre de’Études Maghrébines à Tunis, part of the American Institute for Maghreb Studies, worked with the Bennani Library in Tunis to create a digital catalog of its collection and to digitize and post its photo collection.
  • Pakistan: The American Institute for Pakistan Studies cooperated with several libraries to create digital inventories of their holdings to use in creating MARC-format library records for DLIR. Of the 55,717 records collected,  number of are being disseminated through DLIR, but more remain to be treated with funding from AIPS.
  • Morocco:  The Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies partnered with the Daoud Library of Tetouan to catalog its collection.
  • Mongolia: The American Center for Mongolian Studies partnered with 11 archives and libraries in Ulaanbataar to create digital resources of selected legal texts that are now availlable through ACMS’s library website and the DLIR.
  • Mexico: The Mexico-North Research Network surveyed libraries in north Mexico. It also submitted several bibliographic lists from these libraries on special topics.
  • Israel and the West Bank: The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research conducted library surveys, as did the Palestine American Research Center. PARC also gathered information collections of family papers held by the Institute for Jerusalem Study and sponsored a conference on the subject.
  • Cambodia: The Center for Khmer Studies worked with the National Library of Cambodia and the Buddhist Institute's library to digitize important, rare, or endangered materials in the Khmer language.