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Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME) Releases Public, Open Platform

July 16, 2020

The Antiquities Coalition is one of the Founding Organizations of the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME), along with the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) in Washington, DC. The AC’s Co-founder, Peter Herdrich, serves as Principal Investigator at the DLME, advancing the cultural heritage preservation benefits of the project, particularly through on-the-ground digitization projects at the Kurdish Heritage Institute in Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and at the National Museum of Aden in Yemen. These projects are funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the ALIPH Foundation of Geneva, Switzerland respectively.

The new digital platform is the product of dedicated hard-work by our partners at the Stanford University Library and our staff colleagues at CLIR. We owe them our great appreciation for the multi-year effort, advanced programming sprints, and commitment to our shared goal of access to the cultural heritage records of the Middle East and North Africa. And warmest thanks for funding for the DLME to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, CLIR, the Digital Library Federation, and the Qatar National Library. Have a look at the DLME collections.

And if you would like to know more about the cultural heritage preservation benefits of the DLME, check out this online exhibit.

CLIR and Stanford Libraries Announce Digital Library of the Middle East Platform

July 15, 2020 — The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and Stanford Libraries today announced the release of a public, open platform for the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME), which aims to become one of the world’s largest online archives of Middle Eastern and North African artifacts. The DLME aggregates, through an ongoing program, digital records of published materials, documents, maps, artifacts, audiovisual recordings, and more from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

An international collaborative effort under development for four years, the DLME currently brings together 127,443 digital records of materials held in museums, libraries, and archives worldwide. It also provides an array of applications, tools, and descriptions that enrich the content and facilitate browsing, search, and interpretation. The DLME is intended to serve as a resource for teachers, students, and researchers, as well as for the general public.

“The MENA region’s cultural legacy spans thousands of years and is foundational for the collective intellectual and artistic expression of the modern world,” said CLIR president Charles Henry. “The DLME is wholly dedicated to preserving and disseminating this heritage through advanced digital technology and human proficiency. A collaborative effort, its priorities, areas of focus, and evolution are guided by those who live and work in the Middle East.”

A team of five curatorial advisors from the MENA region worked to identify and prioritize records for federation during the design phase of the DLME platform. Currently aggregated materials are described in 10 languages, originating from more than 800 distinct, named locations, and covering millennia. They comprise metadata records and thumbnail images of artifacts and of documents, including manuscripts, published materials, architectural records, and maps; GIS data; and videos and oral histories. DLME’s ongoing development will focus co-equally on adding records and strengthening the network of participating institutions in the MENA region and worldwide.

The technical platform was developed by a team at Stanford Libraries with leadership from CLIR and funding from the Whiting Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The platform is built upon the open source Spotlight and Blacklight software frameworks, and supports presentation of resources compliant with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) using the Mirador viewer. “The Stanford Libraries contribution to the DLME in creating a platform as well as making use of IIIF and Mirador are indicators of our commitment to global appreciation of the history and cultures of the Middle East as the most ancient cradle of civilization,” said Michael A. Keller, vice provost and university librarian at Stanford.

Stanford Libraries will continue to serve as the technical partner in operating, enhancing, and populating the site. An International Council of Advisors, made up of individuals who represent the regional and international interests of the DLME, will advise on a range of issues relating to operations and content.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.

Stanford Libraries collaborates with global partners in the development of digital technologies, tools, and services impacting libraries and archives. With a collection of over 12 million items and 14 miles of archival holdings, Stanford Libraries has created a dynamic discovery environment designed to improve the access to and preservation of global artifacts valuable to the research and teaching at Stanford and beyond.

Contact: Kathlin Smith,

About the Antiquities Coalition

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter @CombatLooting.