Simon Samoeil, Curator of the Near East Collection at Yale University Library and Project Manager for the OACIS Project, traveled to the Middle East to present the OACIS project to prospective Middle Eastern partners. Here are some notes on his visits.
Cairo office of the Library of Congress, Cairo, Egypt:
On August 11, 2003, Simon met with the LOC director and staff for a presentation of the OACIS prototype. During the subsequent discussion, Simon described the overall project plan as well as its patronage by a Department of Education grant. Simon explained that he was seeking Middle Eastern library partners with their serials in online systems. The group was impressed with the prototype as developed to date and asked several questions on the technical aspects. In particular, they showed interest in the technical infrastructure made use of in the system planning.
Later, on September 1, 2003, Simon traveled to Amman, Jordan to the University of Jordan. There he met with the Acting Head Librarian, the Head of Serials and the library staff. Simon presented the OACIS prototype within the context of the project's overarching goal of strengthening relationships among university libraries for the benefit of scholars around the globe. At Amman, the staff showed great interest in the use of Arabic in library systems. Simon demonstrated how some monographs held and displayed by Yale's ORBIS system already include Arabic script. Also, he showed how the OACIS system has been developed in anticipation of receiving Arabic vernacular records in the near future. Simon stressed the fact that no financial fee is involved in becoming an OACIS partner. Rather, a commitment to OACIS entails sharing information and services, such as Interlibrary Loan services. There are several benefits to the members because of this sharing. For example, OACIS can provide information on serials holdings in other libraries such that a partner can use its budget for acquisitions on items other than those held by another library.
In Lebanon, Simon visited the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Belamand University. In AUB, Simon met with the Serials librarian and the Systems librarian and staff on September 3, 2003. After his presentation, Simon answered questions from the audience concerning partner requirements and financial obligations. Those present showed a positive response to the project overall and were interested in particular with the use of Arabic script in Yale's library systems.
At Belamand University, Simon met with the Systems librarian and staff. This is a private university with a limited but very dedicated staff. The Vice President for Development of the University facilitated the meeting with the Systems group. At Belamand, the staff has made great progress in technical projects. Their serials are managed by an online system, though these are not in MARC format. During the discussion after Simon's presentation, the audience talked about on the scholarly and systems benefits of a project like OACIS. The Systems librarian showed interest in having the OACIS mirror site at their university with the help of their Computer Science department.
From Lebanon, Simon traveled to Syria where he visited the Tishreen University in Latakia on September 7, 2003 and met with the Director of the library and the staff. This group is just starting on automation projects for their library so they were quite enthusiastic to learn about systems such as OACIS and ORBIS. The use of Arabic script in Yale's systems was one of several points in the presentation discussed by the audience. The group at Tishreen University, like all other libraries visited, indicated their interest in becoming an OACIS partner.
Simon's next visit to the Middle East will include visits to the Assad National Library in Syria, The American University in Cairo and the National Library of Cairo, as well as a trip to North Africa to meet with the staff at the Arab Institute for Human Rights in Tunisia.