Text for Grant Proposal


OACIS for the Middle East

Online Access to Consolidated Information on Serials


The Yale University Library proposes to lead and coordinate a collaborative project to make important Middle Eastern language resources widely available.  First, Project OACIS (Online Access to Consolidated Information on Serials) will create a publicly and freely accessible, continuously updated union list [1] of Middle East journals and serials, including those available in print, microform, and online.  Project OACIS will be available via the World Wide Web for readers anywhere in the world, provided they have access to networked computers.  Designed to exploit electronic networked information technologies via the progressive plan described below, the union list will contain full bibliographical information and precise holdings (with owning libraries identified) for journals and serials related to the Middle East and published in numerous languages.  Far more than a union list, Project OACIS will also serve as a gateway to several thousand (from well-known to rarely held) serial and journal titles published not only in traditional formats, but also increasingly electronically, for delivery via the World Wide Web.  At the moment, perhaps 80 Middle Eastern full-text journal titles – including those in Arabic languages -- are available electronically, but the numbers are growing rapidly, offering significant improvement in access and convenience to readers.

Project OACIS will also lay the foundation for enhanced content delivery from Middle East-related journals and serials.  For print or microform titles, the project will develop a pilot project for electronic delivery of Middle Eastern articles.  For online electronic titles, Project OACIS will offer direct links either to the full content (where the titles are available for free) or to the site (if licenses or payments are required).  Project OACIS will also begin to facilitate and coordinate selection of core journals in Middle Eastern languages for digitization, preservation, and easier access.

Project OACIS is international in scope.  Because the first titles and holdings loaded into the union list will be contributed by U.S. partner libraries, the initial phases will be of greatest impact for scholars, teachers, and students in the United States.  Soon, however, the project will expand to include titles and holdings not only of additional U.S. institutions, but also of targeted institutions in Europe and the Middle East.  We will broaden the initial supporting and advisory group as the project expands.

To further its reach and effectiveness, Project OACIS will establish companion or mirror sites abroad, in order to facilitate information updating and access by users in Europe and the Middle East.  This expansion will be accomplished through cooperation with partner institutions abroad, at the same time promoting long-term access to the contents of these foreign partners' resources.  The partners' librarian interns will come to Yale to contribute to the project design, as well as to learn to input records from their own institutions.  They will return home to carry on, within their own institutions and regions, the work they began in the U.S.  While they are on site at Yale, we will enlist the interns' help in two additional ways:  (1) assist in developing vernacular (non-Roman language) representation for their institutions' titles; and (2) serve as online information resource consultants to Yale's Center for Language Study.

This proposal describes in some detail the first three years of the project for which Yale seeks Title VI funding, along with the context for a larger future scope, i.e., becoming an enduring resource with continuously improving document delivery capabilities and the beginnings of a framework for digitizing rare Middle Eastern journals, as technology makes these increasingly possible and as inter-institutional agreements and copyright permit.  We envision the result to be a truly global asset.

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The three-year period covered by the grant will be devoted to the following activities:

• Develop a MARC-compliant database for Middle East journals and serials records and load into it contributors' records and holdings.  (MARC is the national and international library standard format for "machine-readable catalog" records.)

• Develop mechanisms and procedures for continuous updating of the resource, both titles and holdings.

• Make this database publicly available online for user viewing and testing via the World Wide Web, initially through a server at Yale University.

• Seek feedback via specific surveys, focus groups, and through measuring use of the resource; the information will be used to improve user interface and functionality.

• Identify several domestic and foreign institutional partners willing to lend materials to each other for the document delivery phase of this project.  With that small group, identify economic, policy, and procedural issues surrounding such delivery.

• Implement a pilot electronic document delivery project for partners who do not have that capability already.

• Identify a core group of important and infrequently held serials for the study of the Middle East to be digitized by a subsequent phase of this project.

• Identify ongoing costs of the OACIS online union list and develop a funding strategy for supporting the project in the longer term.

In short, we will orchestrate initial loading or entering of the bulk of Middle East serials titles into a searchable database, with accurate holdings and location information being a key focus.  Once these critical pieces of OACIS are in place and the impact of loaded records begins to reach a steady state, the emphasis will shift to planning for improved access to the documents themselves.  The database will enable Middle Eastern studies librarians to see what journals are most needed and/or least available and to plan digitization projects accordingly.

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The project will achieve numerous goals, including but not limited to those sought by Title VI/Section 606 grant requirements.  We address here the goals as identified in the Title VI RFP:

1.       “To facilitate access to or preserve foreign information resources in print or electronic forms”.  By creating a single, comprehensive, regularly-updated electronic resource for bibliographical information about Middle East serials and journals (with accurate holdings information), the project will immediately and greatly facilitate access to these increasingly important information resources.  Many of the materials to be included in this database are quite rare anywhere in the world and are especially hard to locate.  Through this project, prospective users of journal and serial materials will be able to request copies, via appropriate delivery means, from owning libraries.  Where the project links to online content, material will become accessible quickly and conveniently.  The central journal database will facilitate identification of hard-to-find materials.  This will enable future preservation and digitization of the most used items for world-wide access.

2.       “To develop new means of immediate, full-text document delivery for information and scholarship from abroad”.  OACIS will include a pilot document delivery design, and we envision expanding it much more widely as the project matures.  OACIS will also enable collaborative selection of journals for digitization, so the most important and useful journals are digitized first, for the maximum benefit.  OACIS will begin as a cataloging and resource identification project, although the online union list itself will not produce full-text document delivery from the journals and serials.  But, it will take the indispensable first step to achieving such delivery, i.e., identification of the materials and where they are located.  As various preservation and access projects at libraries around the country and around the world convert content into formats that allow full-text delivery, our online World Wide Web database will effectively position users to know exactly what resources are available to them and to take advantage of new delivery mechanisms.  Where the titles are electronic, readers will be able to reach them with a simple click and delivery can be almost instantaneous.  In addition, by selecting a core group of important serials for the study of the Middle East, this project will streamline a collaborative process of creating full text content.

3.       “To develop new means of shared electronic access to international data”.  By its nature, the project will develop a new and exciting means of shared electronic access to international data.  Non-U.S. libraries will be contributing their serials and journals records and holdings to OACIS.  Additionally, access to a U.S. Web site from overseas can be slow and expensive.  Therefore, preliminary conversations are underway to determine when and where it will be possible to speed access to the Middle East and to Europe by establishing strategically located mirror or companion sites.

Overseas implementation of OACIS is crucial to the project’s effectiveness.  Our first partner organizations in the Middle East are the Arab Institute for Human Rights in Tunisia, the American University in Cairo, [2] and the National Library of Syria.  We are already actively exploring a European mirror site with the Universitaets- und Landesbibliothek of Sachsen-Anhalt in Halle. [3]  In the case of a Middle East mirror site, the timing depends on local networking sophistication and on telecommunication access.  The Project will work with the local institution(s) to achieve such sophisticated access.

4.       “To support collaborative projects of indexing, cataloging and other means of bibliographic access for scholars to important research materials published or distributed outside the United States”.  At the heart of this project is cooperation that facilitates the most complete possible identification of Middle Eastern journals and serials.  The foretaste contained in Khoury/Bates’ seminal work, Middle East in Microform [4] is indicative of the intriguing content possibilities:  journals published for short periods of time in Iran of the 1920s, consular documents from American embassies in the Middle East in the 19th century, short-lived serials published in Arabic in European capitals by political exiles, and so on.  Enabled by the Internet and World Wide Web, OACIS will reveal as never before the richness of material available in a distributed global library.  It is safe to say that although the most extensive Middle Eastern journal collections are held outside of the Middle East (particularly in the U.S.), no one country, either the United States or any European or Middle Eastern country, can boast more than a fragmentary collection of these Middle Eastern resources.  The opportunities for scholarship and for increased understanding become almost boundless when one gathers the fragments, compiles them in a single comprehensive electronic resource, and makes that resource available throughout the nation and the world.

5.       “To develop methods for wide dissemination of resources written in non-Roman language alphabets”.  The project will begin with traditional Western cataloging practices that depend on transliteration of information, but a feature of the longer-term design will be the potential to include original language and original alphabet presentations of the titles side by side with the transliterations.  Thus, this online information resource will also be searchable in the original, non-Roman-alphabet language.  No other union list catalog of Middle Eastern materials has achieved such presentation over a wide range of important materials, largely because of technological limitations, which are gradually being overcome.  In addition, with the increasing development of Unicode, more and more vernacular languages will be added to OACIS.

6.       “To assist teachers of less commonly taught languages in acquiring, via electronic and other means, materials suitable for classroom use”. The increased access to library collections will have a significant impact on the development of the Middle Eastern language learning environment across the United States.  Teachers and advanced students interested in Middle Eastern language materials will get better access to authentic materials.  By linking current electronic resources to a union list, the project will increase the delivery of real-time information about the Middle East.  Later in the project, the document delivery capabilities of OACIS will enable teachers to access hard-to-find, original language materials that they will be able to use as the basis for developing (with appropriate tools and templates) truly innovative teaching materials.  The presence of interns from the Middle East during the duration of this project will enrich the Middle Eastern language learning environment at Yale, and eventually at its partner institutions.

Where the Middle East library interns are native speakers of languages already taught at Yale, we will create working relationships between them and Yale's Center for Language Study (CLS), language faculty, and language students.  Some of the interns' time might be allocated to working with CLS technical staff to record audio material for teachers to use in listening comprehension activities and for aural/oral testing, and to select authentic video and other Web-based cultural materials.  Interns could make occasional presentations to language classes and help language teachers find links to resources.  The CLS has developed a program in Directed Independent Language Study (DILS), which allows students to apply to study languages not already taught at Yale; students work on textbooks and audio materials on their own, and the DILS director sets up bi-weekly meetings with native speakers (not teachers) for speaking practice.  (At the end of the semester a teacher of the language from a university that does formally offer it is brought in to give proficiency exams, so that the students know what they have accomplished.)  The library interns will be asked to contribute to the DILS program and its archives as part of their internship.

The Middle Eastern library interns will be selected, in part, for strong computer and Web skills.  They will, therefore, also be able to support the Center for Language Study by compiling Web sites useful for the teaching of their languages and cultures.  They will also be able to put their familiarity with bibliographies, especially of online materials, at the service of teachers preparing new readings and cultural resources.  The language teaching resources collected and organized by the interns will thus create another benefit of OACIS, broadening its usefulness beyond that to the scholarly world.

7.       “To promote collaborative technology based projects in foreign languages, area studies, and international studies among grant recipients under this title”.  Again, by its nature OACIS will achieve the goal of promoting collaborative technology-based projects in and for this important world region.  Simply bringing together a world-wide library community around this project is likely to generate further projects, establish standards, and build links between scholars and librarians in Middle Eastern countries and their counterparts around the world.  The symbolic value of having a base for this project in a Middle Eastern country will be great:  over time, the cooperative management of this project can put more and more control in the hands of citizens of the countries in question and thus advance a shared sense of pride and participation.  OACIS will lay the framework for a collaborative digitization project, and it will be designed with international standards in mind.

Other goals not enumerated in the RFP will also be achieved:

8.       Supporting Preservation Efforts.  Many of the most valuable materials from the last century in Middle Eastern studies were printed on acid-based paper and are now at risk.  The Middle East Microform Project (MEMP) based at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) [5] has already gone a long way toward rescuing some materials.  Our project will begin to identify surviving sets of materials, which can in turn foster the identification and development of critical preservation projects.  Also, Yale Library, along with other large research libraries, has begun a mass de-acidification program and an important part of that program is area studies materials that are approaching a brittle stage.  Many of these materials are from the Middle East.  OACIS will help to identify materials that are a high priority, not only locally but also nationally and internationally, for this type of treatment and will report on materials that have been treated.

9.       Building on Earlier Work to Meet Lasting Goals.  The collaborative, multi-focal nature of the project may be expected to bear fruit in various ways beyond the success of the project itself.  Helping numerous interested parties work together, finding common needs for document delivery and responding to those needs, as well as discovering new sources of material for Middle Eastern study, will all be furthered by this project.  The existing MEMP and the Khoury/Bates union lists comprise a retrospective subset, but they point to what is possible.  As an open-ended, electronic project, OACIS can continue to build toward the future, continuously growing and expanding as the field of study evolves and prospers.

10.      Fostering Partnerships With Like-Minded Institutions Outside of the United States.  We will not only draw on materials held outside the United States, but we also aim, by the end of the three-year project, to establish mirror sites in the Middle East and in Europe.  We have already identified several prospective partners and have confirmed their willingness and eagerness to cooperate with us in this effort.  We are engaged in discussion with others.

Middle East.   Having Middle East partners is not merely a symbolic step.  Well chosen, such partners can reasonably be expected to facilitate information access for students and scholars in that part of the world.  We have identified and secured the interest of three key players:  the Arab Institute for Human Rights (Tunis), the National Library of Syria, and the American University in Cairo.  With these partners, we will address challenging local issues related to technology capability (internal and external structures, staffing, connectivity, and sustainability).  We cannot predict specifically all the challenges before us; part of the effort of the project will be to describe and work through these challenges and to position institutions in the Middle East to become global information resources and ongoing collaborators with United States institutions.

Europe.   Our German partner (the Universitaets- und Landesbibliothek of Sachsen-Anhalt in Halle) not only holds the most notable Middle Eastern collection in Europe, but is developing, under the auspices of the European Union, a complementary project called MENALIB (the Middle East Virtual Library). [6]  European libraries have long held significant Middle East resources, and this collaboration will add new and important resources to the project, significantly expanding the resource base for American students and scholars.  Through improving overseas access, the European mirror site will facilitate and reciprocate this engagement.

11.     Building Scaleable, Shareable Technology Infrastructure.  Technology infrastructure development is an important feature of the project.  Yale proposes to innovate in the technology arena by following Open Source standards insofar as possible, thus facilitating widespread participation in this project and reuse of its components in other like-spirited projects at low cost.  For example, we have been in touch with one specific project (for Japanese serials) at the Ohio State University.  The project director offered the OSU custom written code, specifically developed for their project, for our examination.  However, this code is non-standard and therefore not easily re-usable for a related project in another area.   As similar kinds of projects are proposed for different language and geographical regions, our Title VI implementation will position us to freely share our code and to adapt our developmental work to other proposals.

12.     A Project That Endures.  We expect that project development will not be fully completed at the end of the three-year grant period.  Some holdings will remain to be loaded, particularly for new overseas partners that are identified.  The vernacular capability may still require refining at that point, and non-Roman titles entered from available data in transliterated Roman alphabet will need retrofitting.  The document delivery capabilities will also be in relatively early development and will benefit from further refinement and enhancement.  In fact, by definition, OACIS is an ongoing project and in that sense its work will never be "finished."  It is Yale's intention to continue to maintain the OACIS site, as our minimum commitment, and to continue to load our own library's additions and changes.  The MEMP (Middle East Microform Project) has offered enthusiastic support of OACIS (see attached letter from the Chair) and, along with them, we are already discussing Phase II and the funding that may be secured for it.  It is too early to plan definitively, but there are some alternatives:  (1) MEMP members could jointly approach granting agencies such as foundations, at the middle of end of Year Two; (2) MEMP could determine that all the members together with Yale will able to support further development.  In any case, we are assured that at least MEMP members are committed to making ongoing additions and corrections to OACIS.

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It should require little prose to establish the importance of Middle Eastern Studies for American higher education, for government, and for a wide range of American commercial and other non-governmental interests.  The events of September 11 crystallized the need for a better understanding between America and countries of the Middle East.  American political interests are continually focused on this region.  But there are far broader and far more enduring cultural and economic interests in the region as well.  The Middle East is not a monolithic region.  It is clearly in our nation's interest to promote understanding and cooperation with as many societies in the region as possible, for mutual benefit.  Study of the Middle East is critical to understanding and cooperation; such study requires ready access to related information resources.  This project aids study of the Middle East at a time when it could not be more important:  since the September 11 attack on New York and Washington, the FBI has offered employment to speakers of Arabic, Farsi, and Pashto.  If we are to avoid future tragedies, we must understand the cultures of the Middle East much better than we currently do.  And to do that, we must first have better access to its languages and texts, whether historical or contemporary, religious, political, or popular.

There is already considerable academic focus on the region.  According to the Middle East Studies Association (Directory, 1995/96), [7] 116 institutions of higher learning in the United States offer recognized programs and courses in the field, over 70 of them with graduate programs.  At a conservative estimate, these institutions employ 1,300-1,400 faculty working in a wide variety of disciplines (ranging from anthropology to economics to religious studies to literature to history) with a Middle Eastern focus.  At the same time, a variety of cultural and linguistic barriers conspire to keep Americans at some distance from information about that part of the world.  Project OACIS will break down some of those barriers directly and indirectly so that working scholars and students can break down more barriers in the years to come.

The formal study of Middle Eastern history and culture in American universities, despite such pioneers as Yale progressed slowly before World War II, and the establishment of broad-based research libraries in the Middle East itself are mainly post-World War II phenomena.  Accordingly, there are few "natural," let alone comprehensive, collections of archival and library material covering fully the last century or more, particularly for serials and journals.  That said, over the years librarians (particularly in the United States and Germany) have identified, collected, and preserved a surprising amount of material that, in turn, facilitates scholarship, teaching, and learning.  Some of that material has been converted to microform for preservation and continued use.  An online union list providing accurate and detailed holdings of these microform materials, as well as printed and newly available electronic journal and serial literature, made widely available in a networked environment, is a missing but essential first step in advancing and supporting Middle Eastern studies.  It is important to emphasize that OACIS will include Western titles related to the Middle East, as well as transliterated titles from a broad range of Middle Eastern languages, including at least Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Turkish, Urdu, Kurdish, and Armenian.  Central Asian languages such as Pashto and other dialects of Turkish origin (e.g., Uzbek, Azeri) will also begin to be represented.

This project stands on the shoulders of a preceding effort, The Middle East in Microform compiled by Fawzi Khoury and Michele Bates -- and aims greatly to expand it, using electronic technologies that were not available even ten years ago when that work was prepared.  The Khoury/Bates work was compiled and published under the aegis of the Middle East Microform Project (MEMP), a working group under the umbrella of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).  Although it was a notable start -- not only in identifying numerous hitherto poorly documented resources, but also in coalescing North American libraries around a significant cooperative information-access project -- the listing is variously incomplete, inaccurate, and outdated.  (In fact, any printed directory goes out of date almost as soon as it is prepared for printing.)  The source files that generated the Khoury/Bates volume no longer exist.  The project now begs to be reconceived as well as expanded for students and scholars in the twenty-first century.  For example:

• We know that many items and key institutions from pre-1990 are not represented in this union list of about 2,600 titles (for example, the holdings of such a notable collection as Yale's are not represented).  When missing items and institutions are added, we expect that the resources represented will at least double those represented in Khoury/Bates.

• Since then, the progress of microform filming/preservation has continued and many more titles are now available through this medium.

• The scope of OACIS will extend beyond microfilm to serials and journals in all media, and beyond a union list to a scholar’s environment for Middle Eastern studies.

• Available technology has led to growing dissemination of current serials electronically, at least of the more popular titles that can afford to effect this type of transformation.

• The bibliographical information in Khoury/Bates is scanty in many cases.

• Information about holdings is completely inadequate and thereby misleading.  Holdings, where given, are very general (e.g., 1934+).  In numerous cases we have worked with researchers or students to contact a particular institution for needed items, only to find, inquiry after inquiry, that the piece he or she needed was not available at the listed library, because the item was missing or was never there in the first place.

• A printed directory cannot incorporate ongoing additions, corrections, and updates, yet changes in titles and holdings happen continuously.  And electronic versions of print resources, as well as new electronic serials, enter the information arena far more quickly than new titles in print ever could.

• There has been little or no opportunity to identify significant holdings outside of the United States, even though major collections are to be found in other regions, such as Europe and the Middle East.

• The lack of a central electronic reference work for Middle East serials has hindered the ability of students and scholars to obtain information about these resources electronically or in print from overseas and even within the United States.

Although the Khoury/Bates project was constrained in numerous ways (finances, state-of-the-art ten years ago), the pattern and proof-of-concept are lastingly important.  It is time to build on this important foundation, to expand and extend it.  Happily, technological developments in hardware, software, and connectivity now facilitate the development of next-generation resources.  It is also worth noting that the OACIS database could be used to produce a regular versions of a directory, should a standard print edition prove useful for readers without network connectivity or for readers who would like a fixed copy for various purposes.

Although there are other online union lists for journals in other fields, OACIS will be unique for several reasons.  Unlike such resources as the International Union List of South Asian Newspapers and Gazettes, [8] OACIS would be continually updated.  It would include all Middle Eastern serials, including journals, newspapers, and magazines.  It would also be MARC-compliant and thus could be pointed to by current advanced library management systems through its use of established metadata standards.  Libraries would be able to integrate this database into their suite of resources and search it through the interfaces they have chosen for their own library catalogs.  Because Project OACIS will use international standards, in future phases more Middle Eastern partners will be able to contribute to the resource, increasing its value.

It should be mentioned that Yale Library has been interested in -- and has been working for several years at-- developing this OACIS-type of project and identifying partners for it.  The Library's Near East curator first proposed, at a 1997 Middle East library conference, that a group of cooperating curators define a database project to provide global access to Middle Eastern serials.  The group concurred.  In 1998, a small subcommittee was formed to identify possible funding sources for such a project.  The Title VI RFP has proved a highly exciting and appropriate catalyst for an even more detailed development of our enhanced proposal to serve Middle Eastern resources to a worldwide audience.

OACIS will bring together institutions in the United States, along with well-chosen European and Middle Eastern ones, to begin creating an online resource that compiles and provides ongoing access to a more comprehensive body of Middle East serials information than has ever been possible before.  Without a single "publication date," this Middle East resource will continue to grow and be updated and improved constantly, while providing public access to the material early on.

[N.B.  We have recently become aware of Project AODL, partially funded by Title VI.  AODL is an important venture by 15 American overseas libraries to catalog their holdings in standard formats and to make available this information for all to search.  An academic advisor to the consortium has reported to us that the primary thrust of the project is the union catalog of books on all topics and languages as held by these libraries; and the library advisor to the project has encouraged us to submit OACIS for consideration, as he believes it will complement AODL's efforts.  He advises that, should OACIS proceed, the projects will benefit from coordination and cooperation, and we surely intent to pursue such cooperation.  There are so many inaccessible Middle Eastern materials, that no one project can do all that is necessary to make the globally available.  In any case, OACIS is much more focused and specialized on the Middle East and on serials than is ADOL.  There is definitely room for both projects.]

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Yale was the first among American colleges and universities to support and encourage the study of Arabic and Islamic literature and culture.  When the first professor of Arabic, Edward Elbridge Salisbury, was appointed in 1841, he was the only scholar with this specialty in the United States.  In the more than 150 years since that appointment, Yale has systematically developed an extensive and internationally regarded collection of materials, including more than 400,000 volumes that support Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies.  These works appear in many languages and are housed in a number of libraries and collections at Yale.  Volumes in the vernacular languages (Arabic, Persian, and Turkish) number approximately 120,000.  An outstanding collection of more than 3,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish dealing with various subjects in science, Islamic law, philosophy, and other subjects resides in the renowned Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  At the heart of Yale Library's Arabic and Islamic holdings is the 150-year-old Near East Collection, which contains approximately 16,000 volumes. [9]  Because this collection contains many rare items, it plays an invaluable role in scholarly research.  Every year, numerous scholars from al l over the United States, as well as from France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Syria, and other parts of the globe come to Yale to use this extraordinary collection, whose holdings cover such diverse topics as Arabic language and literature, Islamic law, and the development of science, pedagogy, and printing in the Arab world.  The Near East Collection also contains early European publications on Arabs and Islam.

Currently the Library receives nearly 1,200 active serials relating to Middle Eastern Studies, as well as the major American and European scholarly journals in western and vernacular languages (these were among the resources not included in Khoury/Bates, for example).  Inactive serials number several hundred.

Academically, pre-modern and modern Middle East studies are located mainly in four departments: History, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Religious Studies, and Political Science.  Other senior and junior faculty members whose research and teaching relate to the Middle East are in the departments of Anthropology, English, Spanish and Portuguese, and History of Art.  Yale offers instruction in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian.  All these may be used to fulfill Yale’s two-year foreign language requirement.  In addition, the study of the ancient Middle East is represented by outstanding faculty in the departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and Linguistics.

Yale offers Masters and Ph.D. degrees in a variety of disciplines related to the Middle East, and it continues to attract highly qualified graduate students from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  Currently, more than thirty graduate students specialize on subjects related to Middle Eastern History, Languages, and Religious Studies (including Islamic Studies) as well as in other departments, such as Anthropology, Sociology, and Political Science and programs such as Judaic Studies and International Relations.  The quality of Yale graduates is evident in the high rate of job placement.  Recent graduates from Yale have found employment at numerous significant cultural and educational institutions.

The OACIS project is strongly supported by Yale's Council on Middle East Studies.  A member of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies (YCIAS) since 1984, the Council provides direction for the study and development of Middle East Studies at Yale, coordinating activities among the various departments of the University that offer courses relating to the Middle East.  The Council collaborates on joint projects with other councils and programs of YCIAS, with professional schools such as the schools of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Divinity, Law, and Medicine, and also with various University departments.  The Council also acts as the intermediary for disseminating information to the Yale community regarding the study of the Middle East, so as to establish an academic platform for undergraduate and graduate students and the faculty.  Through its various activities the Council aims to encourage academic debate and exchange on contemporary historical, political, and cultural issues of relevance to the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia and to promote interdisciplinary scholarship.  Its main activities include:

• Coordinating course offerings and other educational programs relating to the Middle East in the University.

• Advocating for faculty appointments in various departments, advising on library acquisitions, and helping to co-ordinate fundraising outside the university.

• Organizing and sponsoring conferences, seminars, and public lectures by visiting scholars, and providing information concerning grants, fellowships, research programs, and foreign study opportunities.

• Outreach programs in collaboration with International Studies.

In addition to supporting Middle Eastern studies at Yale, the Yale Library is highly experienced in creating resources for foreign language materials.   A database for Japanese and Chinese language newspapers was created in 2000.  This database follows the Unicode protocol and enables Chinese and Japanese language entry, search, and retrieval.   Staff at the Yale Library have expertise in USMARC for most languages.  The Library has significant experience with electronic document delivery, digitization, and online resource guide programs and is well positioned to lead a project as varied and progressive as OACIS.

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The following U.S. institutions will partner with Yale in this Middle Eastern project.  Their staff will comprise the Advisory Group for OACIS; they will also be the first to prepare titles and holdings information for entry into the online union list.  Then, the Advisory Group will expand over time as non-U.S. institutions are added.  Additionally, we expect that several dozen additional libraries beyond the ones listed here will include their holdings in the project during the three-year grant period.

1.  United States partners and advisors include:

• Ali Houissa

Middle East & Islamic Studies Bibliographer

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Cornell's serial holdings on the Middle East, North Africa, and on topics related to Islamic studies are estimated at 450 active titles in various languages, including Western European and Central Asian, with emphasis on more recent serial runs.  Less than a quarter of the titles are in Arabic.  The coverage varies widely and is not limited to one historic period or one sub-regional aspect.  The vast majority of Cornell's holdings are readily available for electronic loading into the project. [10]

• Jonathan Rodgers

Head, Near East Division and Coordinator of Area Programs

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan's significant Near East collection contains over 1,100 serials, representing a mix of current and inactive titles, as well as 32 current newspapers.  Languages represented are English, European, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and several others.  Particular collection strengths lie in ancient and modern history of the Near East, modern Arabic and Hebrew literature, Hebrew Bible, and politics of the Near East.  All serials and journal titles have already been converted into machine-readable format and holdings are recorded in the local University of Michigan library management system. [11]

• Dona S. Straley

Middle East Studies Librarian

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

The Middle East Studies (MES) collection at Ohio State contains over 100,000 books on the history and culture of the Middle East and North Africa from the 7th century AD to the present; on the religion of Islam throughout the world; and on Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages and literatures. Of particular interest to OACIS, the Library holds significant Arabic language serials, including current subscriptions to over 75 titles.  As well, this collection holds complete runs of numerous Arabic journals that are no longer published.

• Dennis Hyde

Director, Collection Management & Development

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania Library's excellent Arabic-language serial collection includes a number of titles from the early part of this century that are not widely held in other U.S. libraries, and some of these are unique to Penn's collection.  The Persian serials collection is particularly strong and is complemented by the Persian titles held at the University of Texas.  Holdings in Central Asian languages and Turkish are modest but potentially useful to many scholars.  The subject areas covered include literature, history, the performing arts, religion, and economics.  Active Middle East serials are estimated at about 250 titles, with 140 titles in Arabic and the remainder in Azeri, Persian, Tajik, Turkish, Urdu, and Uzbek.  Inactive titles number over 400, again with similar proportion of languages represented. [12]

• Abazar Spehri

Middle East Studies Librarian

University of Texas

Austin, TX

As a key participant in such a project, the University of Texas Library can boast of its sizable -- and partially unique -- Persian serials that have been collected over the last two decades through conventional methods as well as book buying trips by the curator and by key faculty members.  Equally impressive are the Turkish and Azerbaijani serials collections that were built and augmented through a Department of Education Foreign Periodicals Program grant from 1993 to 1995.  All of these holdings will be readily loaded into the online project.  The University of Texas serials number about 300 active and over 1,600 inactive titles.  Languages represented include Arabic, Persian, Modern Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Tajiki, Armenian, Turkmen, Kurdish, and, of course, Western languages. [13]

• Mary St. Germain

Head, Near East Section

University of Washington Libraries

University of Washington

Seattle, WA

The University of Washington Libraries hold a comparatively broad selection of Arabic periodicals because, despite the national trend of cutting university library budgets, Arabic subscriptions were not cut until well into the 1990s.  The collection of Central Asian serials is small, but unusual, in dating back to the 1950s and 1960s.  The Turkish collection is modest but includes a number of seldom-held pre-World War II titles.  The subjects covered include literature, history, archaeology, culture, political science, economics, statistics, law, and religion.  The University of Washington Libraries will be able to offer particularly valuable expertise, because the previous collaborative Middle Eastern project (that produced The Middle East in Microform) was managed there.  The University of Washington Libraries hold 550 Arabic, 33 Central Asian, 109 Persian, and 88 Turkish serial titles.  With Western holdings, the total number of titles is about 1,000.  Most of these have been cataloged into MARC format and are easily loadable into OACIS. [14]

2.  Europe:

• Lutz Wiederhold

Curator of the Oriental Books

Universitaets- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt

Halle, Germany

Responsible for the primary special collections in the Middle East in Germany, the University Library is sponsored by the German Research Foundation (usually referred to as DFG, or the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). [15]  This Library holds one of the foremost Middle Eastern collections in Europe, acquiring 6,000 volumes per year and 750 active serial titles.  The University is committed to increasing the number of active serials.  The Oriental Books department mandate includes the provision of digital information in the field of Middle Eastern studies, including periodical contents.  The University Library  has developed the MENALIB (Middle East Virtual Library) project, [16] an information portal for Middle East and Islamic studies (also funded by the DFG and EU).  This project provides a gateway to Internet resources and tables of contents of journals, but does not provide information about valuable print resources, nor will it begin the process of creating electronic full text access.  Project OACIS will produce essential information that will dovetail with this project, as it will provide the location of these journals and the holdings information for the locations around the world.  It will become an important contributor to MENALIB.

3.  Middle East:

• Abdel Basset Ben Hassen

Director, Arab Institute for Human Rights

Institut Arabe des Droits de l'Homme

Tunis, Tunisia

The Arab Institute for Human Rights is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) established in 1989 by three independent organizations: the Union of Arab lawyers, the Arab Organization for Human Rights, and the Tunisian League of Human Rights.  The mission of the Institute is to disseminate information throughout the Middle East and to enhance understanding about human rights by establishing workshops in various Middle East countries.  The Institute's holdings of an important collection of 300 journals in the social sciences, as well as their information dissemination and communications mission, make them an ideal candidate to be a partner institution.  The Institute is not technologically advanced at this time, and we will provide some support during this project to move them into a higher-tech environment.

• Mrs. Shahirah al-Sawi

Director of the Library

American University in Cairo

Cairo, Egypt

We are delighted that the American University in Cairo is eager participate in the project.  The AUC Library brings many desirable qualities to OACIS:  a high level of technology capability (including a Web server accessible from the U.S., membership in RLG, cataloging to MARC standards); the largest English language research collection in Egypt (2,400 current periodicals, at least 1/3 related to the Middle East); significant microfilm collections, and fax delivery of articles to other libraries.  The AUC offers OCAIS a good first step in loading holdings from a Middle Eastern library into Project OACIS.

• Ali Aydi, General Director

National Library of Syria

Damascus, Syria

The AL-Assad National Library (Damascus, Syria) is a new architectural monument housing numerous forms of the country's cultural and national heritage, as well as chosen specimens of the world heritage, in addition to a significant book collection, thousands of periodicals, and numerous microfilm holdings.  It holds an important collection of Arab-Islamic manuscripts, gathered from various old sources.  In addition, the Assad Library is a Syrian and UN depository library, with full deposit of publications in Arabic and English.  It is the major repository of Syrian and Arabic materials in the country.

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A.      Open Source and International Standards for Development of Project

Technical development efforts in the project will follow Open Source systems engineering methodologies whenever possible.  This will entail, as appropriate, integrating freely licensed, high-quality applications or components into the architecture, freely releasing locally developed components, and seeking input on development and usability from the international community.  These techniques, made possible with Internet-based communications technologies, are proving to be among the most effective ways of building quality, sustainable software with modular, extensible architectures.  These techniques will also ensure that significant systems accomplishments will be shareable by any other parties interested in using similar applications. [17]  Many libraries in developing countries look to the United States and find that our library solutions can be too expensive for their budgets.  This project will utilize software that can be developed by programmers without requiring expensive licensing and software tools.

Many Open Source applications are already available for bibliographic records.  This project will spearhead the use of Open Source software and international standards in libraries that will benefit from the advantages of cost, flexibility, and knowledge-sharing that are part of Open Source software.

While Unicode for Arabic script (with provisions for special characters in other Middle Eastern languages) has long been an established standard, it is only in very recent years that software is actually incorporating this standard.  The importation and translation of records using Unicode will promote further Unicode usage, and identify problems for the next phase, which will include digitized and encoded texts in languages using Arabic script.  This project will contribute to the general understanding of the uses of Unicode in Open Source software. 

B.      Flexible Database Design

We estimate that the database will contain at least 5,000 descriptive records and holdings associated with Middle Eastern serials by the end of the three-year grant period, and that it will include many titles not currently described in the Khoury/Bates volume.  We expect to receive some of the data initially in standards-based formats (particularly MARC) from catalogs of the participating libraries.  As the project progresses, we will plan for the capability of entering many more pseudo-MARC (incomplete or converted by us into some variant of MARC) records directly into the database for those libraries that cannot supply standards-based digital files.

The bibliographic records will be transported to XML, while retaining their MARC compliance.  By mapping the XML to relational tables, we will be able both to preserve the complexities of the MARC records and their relationships to their holding records, and to create a database that is easy to present on the Web and flexible to amendments and inclusions.  It will also be relatively inexpensive to create as no expensive licensed software will be required.  Using XML simplifies linking into and out of the database.  It will also ease searching and presentation of the database over the Web.  XML also supports Unicode, crucial for a project involving Arabic script.

This project will build on other exciting MARC to XML projects, such as the MEDLANE project at Stanford Medical library [18].  MEDLANE uses scalable software to transfer all of Stanford Medical Library’s MARC format records to XML documents.  Despite the different subject emphasis, our project will be a contributor to work in this area.  We will be following these projects closely and contributing our scripts and programs to the combined Open Source effort.  MARC to XML conversion was a "LITA top technology trend" in libraries in 2000. [19]  This is an incredibly fertile field that will be of strong educational value to our international partners.

The robust capabilities of MARC will be needed by this project to deal completely with the necessary descriptions of the journals and serials included.  Most libraries continue to fully describe their resources in MARC.  Rather than reducing the full description, Project OACIS will enable the functionality of a library catalog, facilitating seamless searching across interfaces.

The relational structure of the database will facilitate staging and connecting information of four different types:

• Bibliographic (basic title, descriptive data).

• Holdings (volumes or issues held at each participating library).

• Library administrative information (including addresses, delivery policies, contact information, and so on).

• Full text (images or Unicode text), at a later time.

The project design features an interactive Web-layer on top of the relational database.  This layer will allow querying of the underlying relational database via the Web and display of the results as a Web page or automated retrieval by other systems.  Such a system will not only be easy for users, but it will also be powerful, inasmuch as relational queries can effectively reorganize the material for the user's needs.  For example, one could inquire how many and which titles in the database in the Uzbek language were published in the second half of the 20th century.

Here it is appropriate to pose and answer three key questions, all related to options we did not choose for OACIS implementation:

(1) Why not derive the information we propose to develop from the records of one or both of the large cataloging utilities, RLIN or OCLC?

RLG and OCLC are highly effective membership organizations, and members share in the cost of creating and maintaining the services.  Searches and retrievals are charged per record, and even libraries that contribute cataloging to the utilities must pay for public access at $.50 - $1.00 per record -- not all libraries are able to fund that kind of public access.  Additionally, many American libraries join one or the other utility, but not both; few of the non-American libraries with significant Middle Eastern holdings are participants in either RLG or OCLC, and thus they do not have access to the databases.  Finally, Yale and our U.S. partner libraries in OACIS have used their own local online library management systems for serial holdings, rather than RLIN or OCLC.  Thus, only a limited subset of the information we propose to assemble is to be found scattered throughout those databases.  RLIN and OCLC to date have also not provided viable vernacular language support for the Middle Eastern languages.

(2) Why not use a library management system such as Yale's new Endeavor system as a vehicle for this project?  Why develop a separate database system?

The library management systems arena is currently in a state of development, evolution, and transition.  Over the past few years, several new-generation systems have been developed and a number of libraries, including Yale, have migrated or will soon be migrating to them. OACIS seeks to develop a Web-based resource into which various institutions can load data and update information.  Sharing a single library's management system (these systems usually perform a wide range of functions for a given library, such as acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation) with outside participants raises numerous technical and legal issues. While OACIS could license a library management system for the database, it would increase the barriers to collaborative entry of records and maintenance of the system, as partner libraries would have to continue using those clients after the project is funded and completed.

(3) Why not use emerging "Dublin Core" standard for the database?

Although we considered using a Dublin Core structure for the database, Dublin Core, is at its heart a minimalist set of descriptive elements.  We feel the more robust capabilities of MARC will be needed by this project to deal completely with the necessary descriptions of the journals and serials included.  Our goal is not merely to note that journals are available; it is to describe where and how many volumes of what journals are available.

C.       Loading Middle Eastern data and Implementation of the Project

Initial work on the Web-based resource will begin with the OACIS staff translating selected records from the partner libraries into a prototype database for testing and analysis.  The translation will require careful analysis and design as MARC and non-MARC records will be transformed into XML (and made MARC-compliant, if necessary).  Once test records are loaded into the database, user interface design work will begin for both the staff and the public (researcher) interfaces.

A secondary loading challenge will involve importation of holdings records that describe the volumes or issues held by each participating library.  This may or may not happen concurrently with the translation and import of the descriptive records from each library.

As the project progresses, issues such as overlay or revision of basic descriptive information will need to be addressed, because the ways that different libraries describe commonly held titles may cause importation conflicts.  This will involve discussions and problem-resolution among all the partners.  The project will test current revision capabilities and suggest new ones.

Another piece that will be developed as the project progresses is an entry capability for those libraries that do not have their holdings in a standard format or simply wish to attach the details about volumes they hold to an existing descriptive record.

Finally, the Web interface to the project will support a variety of readers.  We will incorporate novice and advanced search capabilities.  The database will also be Z39.50 compliant, so it can be searched by other library interfaces.

D.       Document Delivery

Once the database is in place, project staff will commence a pilot document delivery project.  Recently document delivery in the U.S. has been revolutionized by the use of electronic document delivery programs.  Yale pioneered Open Source software for electronic document delivery through the creation of software that later developed into the tool known as Prospero. [20]  Project staff will work with our foreign partners to implement electronic document delivery through this means, thereby continuing to utilize open systems in the project.  The document delivery experiment will not only facilitate access to foreign journals but also facilitate selection for digitization.

E.        Selection of Hard-to-Find Journals for Digitization

The result of Project OACIS will be easier identification of a core set of resources for Middle Eastern studies.  Identification is the most important part of any digitization project, and the identification of the journals will set the tone for the next phase of the project.  Perhaps it will be most important that historical journals be digitized.  In that case, copyright problems may be reduced, even as preservation problems will be more challenging.  Targeting more recent journals might produce a project that results in partnerships with publishing companies in the Middle East.  Regardless of which items are identified as strong candidates for digitization, the work will be building on the firm foundation of cooperation created during the earlier stages of OACIS.

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The two Principal Investigators, Yale's Associate University Librarian for Collections (including Area Studies) and the Electronic Publishing and Collections Specialist, will coordinate the project, keeping it on target and on time.  Yale's Near East Curator will undertake the significant task of Project Director, managing the relationships with and among all of the project partners, both in the U.S. and particularly overseas.  The Advisory Group for OACIS will include representatives from the partners identified in Section VI, as well as strategic personnel from the Yale Library.  The Advisory Group will meet semi-annually during the grant term and will discuss and resolve issues relating to standards of record entry, design of interface, coordination of evaluation, etc.  Yale project staff will report on budget issues and seek advice from the Advisory Board when revised choices need to be made.  The Advisory Board will also spearhead efficient implementation of document delivery at their institutions and selection of the core journals for digitization.  Key project staff are listed under Investigators and additional staff time is explained under Notes on the Budget.

A.      Project progress and targets over three years

• At the end of Year One, we expect a prototype database to be in place, with selected records from the participating U.S. libraries.  A prototype Web-interaction interface for record display will be mocked up and tested.  The feedback of the participating/partner libraries will be sought at several points prior to the completion of a prototype.  The first Middle East intern, probably from the American University in Cairo, will have worked on the project, both by learning about its design and contributing to its development from a Middle Eastern perspective.  This intern will also have focused on preparing the AUC records for loading into the project.

• By the middle of Year Two, all existing compatible records for the partner U.S. libraries will have been loaded, and we will begin loading records from overseas participants with compatible standard formats.  By this stage, a user interface will have been designed, and we will open the Web site for outside viewers as a work in progress.  At this point, we will begin to seek feedback from a wider group of users, through online modes such as e-mail and electronic surveys.  These evaluation modes will be repeated at key points throughout the project (see Evaluation Plan below).

• By the end of Year Two, work will have been completed on the Web-interaction entry form.  Those libraries with records already loaded into the project can begin editing their administrative information and holdings, adding descriptive information and administrative records as needed to supplement previously loaded information.  The records of additional U.S. libraries and the German partner will have been loaded.  We will have loaded titles from the Library of the American University in Cairo.  The second intern, from the Arab Institute of Human Rights, will have been trained in the project and will begin developing a plan for incorporating their library’s serial titles into OACIS.  We anticipate project travel to Germany to exchange systems skills and work on the project with the Halle staff during Year Two.  This will lay the groundwork for establishing the European mirror site.  The end of Year Two will also mark the start of planning for the document delivery pilot project.

• Year Three will see additional participant libraries' records included either through special programming to handle supplied formats or through enabling manual entry via the Web-entry interface. Work will begin on importing and including descriptive information in vernacular scripts using Unicode as the encoding medium. Year Three will also see implementation of the proposed European site, opening up greater opportunities for libraries in other parts of the world to gain access to information.  Holdings of additional overseas libraries will be added, in part as recommended by our key partners abroad.  In the third year, we plan travel to the Middle East to help establish a World Wide Web server and mount OACIS at the Institute.  The third Middle East intern will be instrumental in this task.  We will also implement our pilot document delivery project.

B.       Establishing the mirror sites

After Year One of the project, the participants will have a stronger grasp of the final database design and the complexities of the Web-entry intermediary layer.  Once these are known, it will be possible to resolve key issues such as whether it is possible to allow data entry to the mirror sites or whether the mirror servers will be read-only sites.  In Year Two, the preparation, software installation, and communication protocols will be set up to enable effective mirroring of the project database at the European site.  Following the successful implementation of the European mirror early in Year Three, we will begin to duplicate the mirror site in the Middle East.  We may learn that the mirror site concept is not feasible in Tunisia; in that case, we will seek an alternative technology capability that provides a similar result for readers in the Middle East.

C.       Selecting the interns

We have made reference in several sections above to the Middle Eastern librarian interns, to be selected and sent by our Middle Eastern library partners.  Their primary tasks will be to work with and understand the OACIS database design and functionality, to critique the presentation/interface, and to learn to enter records into OACIS from their libraries, so that they can continue their work upon returning home and also train other libraries in their region to participate in the project. By participating in this project, the interns will also participate in the planning for the digitization and document delivery phases of OACIS.  They will be the key means of information transfer to their home institutions.  The interns will also be utilized as electronic information resource people for the Center for Language Study at Yale.  The interns will be selected from participating Middle Eastern libraries, identified now and as the project moves forward.  The prospective candidates will be recruited through a competitive process and the applicants must be recommended by their library directors and colleagues who are involved in OACIS.  The selection process will be established by the Advisory Board, who will be key in decision-making about this matter.

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Principal Investigators:

Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian with specific responsibility for Collections Development and Management and all Area Studies.  The ranking librarian at Yale for collection issues, her responsibilities also include Yale Library's area studies and special collections.  She is particularly known, nationally and worldwide, for her work on the impact of electronic publishing, in the arena of electronic costs, and in copyright/licensing for the electronic environment.  In addition to the PI role, Ms. Okerson will provide support for intellectual property and economic issues for this project. [21]

Kimberly Parker, Electronic Publishing and Collections Specialist, Yale Library.  Ms. Parker is a co-PI in this project.  She will be responsible for coordinating the technical aspects of the work both inside of Yale and with partner institutions.  Recently a Yale sciences librarian with a strong technical expertise, Ms. Parker has been a leader in the library system and on campus in defining issues, policies, and procedures related to accessing and developing electronic content.  Under her leadership, numerous electronic resources have been introduced to Yale's readers.  She is involved with electronic publications planning for several other library projects.

Project Director:

Simon Samoeil, Curator, Near East Collection, Yale Library.  Mr. Samoeil's specific contributions as Project Director will include managing the project content, supervising staff working on that content, and directing the partnerships needed to accomplish the work.  He is a member of the Yale Council on Middle Eastern Studies, representing the Library.  Mr. Samoeil has an in-depth understanding of the field of Middle Eastern Studies and the scholarly resources needed to support Yale's academic program.  Mr. Samoeil travels regularly in the Middle East and has developed numerous contacts there over the years.  His academic library experience is extensive:  before his arrival at Yale in 1990, Mr. Samoeil worked at the libraries of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania and at King Fahd University in Dahran, Saudi Arabia.

Metadata Specialists:

Matthew Beacom, Catalog Librarian for Networked Information Resources at Yale University Library, Mr. Beacom is the facilitator for cataloging of all electronic resources at Yale.  He is an institutional and national leader in providing intellectual access to electronic journals and other online publications through the use of traditional library concepts and tools such as online catalogs and cataloging practices and emerging information technologies, as well as technology tools that include the World Wide Web and metadata.  Mr. Beacom will contribute appropriate cataloging of electronic serials and journals for the Middle East, as these are identified for Yale's collection and for OACIS.  He will coordinate Yale's activities in this arena with those of the other OACIS participants and serve as an expert resource in this area.

Patrick Salmon, Cataloger, Near East Collection, Yale Library.  Mr. Salmon is the Library's cataloging expert for materials from this region of the world.

Academic and Languages Advisor:

Nina Garrett, Director of Language Study, Yale University.  Dr. Garrett is a seasoned languages expert with a wide range of experience in academic teaching and research, as well as cooperative projects that aim to improve language pedagogy.  She joined Yale in 1998 to establish the Center for Language Study, which strengthens and supports language learning and teaching at all levels.  It provides funding and expert support for professional development activities for language teachers and graduate students, and for a wide range of projects in the development of materials, courses, and curricula.  The CLS includes the former Language Lab and is thus responsible for integrating the use of cutting-edge technologies to support language learning and teaching; in this effort it works closely with Yale’s Information Technology Services to support multilingual computing across the campus.  Together with the Language Study Committee, Dr. Garrett advises the Provost on policy issues regarding language and international education at Yale.

Additional technical staff and positions are addressed in the Notes on the Budget.

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In launching the OACIS project, Yale is planning two modes of project evaluation and assessment.  The project evaluation proper will specifically register our success in meeting the specific project goals enumerated above:

• To what extent has OACIS created an authoritative, coherent and union list of Middle East journals and serials records?

• How successfully has Yale built a sustainable federation of project partners?

• To what extent has Yale developed mechanisms and procedures for continuous update of OACIS?

• To what extent have Yale and other partners extended the OACIS project to materials lending and future digitization projects?

• Has the project been able to pilot delivery of full text access?

• To what extent has Yale identified ongoing costs and developed a funding strategy for long-term support?

• How successfully has Yale provided this database for public use and testing?

Yale's attempt to measure the effectiveness of the OACIS project and the resulting database and document delivery facilitation will include a focused study of a small group of libraries that currently exchange a significant level of documents in the Middle East subject area.

Our assessment will take the form of an active research project.  Key project staff (the PIs and Director), with support from Yale Library's Director of Service Quality, will form the core of the assessment team.  During Year One, the assessment team will engage participant libraries in a discussion of their baseline expectations:  How do they presently think the new union list and its information will advance their ability to identify, locate and borrow Middle Eastern materials from other libraries?  Simultaneously, the assessment team will plan its own assessment strategy.  This will include devising questionnaires for participating librarians as well as end-users, defining the variables that will be studied in this arena, and settling upon a methodology for the assessment program proper.

During Years Two and Three, the team will implement the assessment strategy including distributing and analyzing the above mentioned questionnaires.  Some libraries will participate only once, others more routinely.  Each iteration of the assessment process and questionnaires will enable us to test, validate and revise our expectations.


The Yale Library and our supporting partners, whose numbers and role in this collaboration will expand over the three years of OACIS, are excited that Title VI, Section 606, is offering us an opportunity create the first U.S. and global partnership to make Middle Eastern resources widely available.  There is not and has not been any other such project to date, though there are related projects with which OACIS will dovetail very well.  The Yale Library has been laying the groundwork for OACIS, and we are grateful to the Department of Education for offering the opportunity to apply for funding to launch this important and necessary work.  We and our partners believe that we can deliver a truly functional and focused, broadly-based research tool to meet the information needs of numerous students, teachers, policymakers and others interested in the Middle East.  The time to do this is now.


[1] The term "union list" as used by libraries is a unified listing of materials held distinctly or in common by a group of libraries.  Materials represented often reflect a given subject area of mutual interest to the participating institutions and to others beyond that group.  Union lists can contain information ranging from brief to very detailed.

[2] The Library home page of the American University at Cairo, with its online catalog, is: http://lib.aucegypt.edu.

[3] For more information about the University, see its World Wide Web home page at: http://www.uni-halle.de. For information about the library, see:  http://www.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/index.htm.

[4] Khoury, Fazwi W. and Bates, Michele S. The Middle East in Microform : a Union List of Middle Eastern Microforms in North American Libraries. Seattle, Wash.:  University of Washington Libraries, 1992.

[5] See http://wwwcrl.uchicago.edu/info/memp.htm for a description of the Center's filming project for Middle Eastern materials.

[6] See http://ssgdoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/.  MENALIB is a tool for cooperative compilation of relevant Internet resources for Middle East and Islamic studies, providing links and metadata to 1600 resources such as diverse web sites, tables of contents, and the like.  MENALIB is an excellent resource that will interact with and complement to OACIS.

[7] For more information about the work of this group, see their World Wide Web home page at: http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/index.html.

[9] See the extensive descriptions to be found at the Yale Library's Near Eastern home page: http://www.library.yale.edu/neareast/.

[10] For information about Cornell University Library's Middle East & Islamic Collection, see: http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/histmedv.htm.

[11] For information about the University of Michigan Library's Near East Division, see: http://www.lib.umich.edu/area/Near.East/.

[12] For information about the University of Pennsylvania Library's Middle East services, see: http://www.library.upenn.edu/vanpelt/collections/mideast/mideast.html.

[13] For information about the University of Texas Library's Middle Eastern Studies program, see: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/subject/melp/.

[14] For information about the University of Washington Libraries Near East Studies collections, see: www.lib.washington.edu/Subject/NearEast/.

[15] See http://www.dfg.de/english/.  DFG is the central public funding organization for academic research in Germany.  DFG is thus comparable to a Research Council (in British and western European terminology) or a (national) Research Foundation (in American and far eastern terminology).

[17] More information on Open Source is available at http://www.opensource.org/ and the home page for Open Source Systems for Libraries is at http://www.oss4lib.org/.

[21] For Ms. Okerson's Web site and articles, presentations on electronic resources, licensing, and scholarly communication, see:  http://www.library.yale.edu/~okerson/alo.html.

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Yale University Library: OACIS Project