The role of the Collection Development Policy is to serve primarily as a planning document, and is to be reviewed annually.
The Oman Library at the Middle East Institute specializes in current events, history, culture, economics, religion, politics, and languages of the Middle East. The library, originally named after MEI's founder, George Camp Keiser, was established along with MEI in 1946, and is located in a carriage house behind MEI's main building. In 2010 the library adopted its current name, following a generous endowment by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Oman Library Mission
As an integral part of the Middle East Institute, the Oman Library seeks to support MEI's Mission to "increase knowledge of the Middle East among citizens of the United States and to promote better understanding between the people of these two areas," by facilitating research and information sharing on all aspects of the broader Middle East and North Africa region.
Goals and Objectives
In addition to supporting and inspiring the research of MEI staff, fellows, interns, and members, the library serves and is open to the general public through appointment, and strives to form ties with outside schools, communities, interest groups, and independent researchers.
The librarian seeks to maintain the Oman Library's rich physical collection and ensure that the library remains a source of unbiased, authoritative, and current information, and provides representative coverage of materials relevant to the study of the broader Middle East and North Africa region.
Recognizing the specialized research needs of MEI scholars and members, the main objective of the Oman Library is to supply the MEI community with a wide range of scholarly materials that are consistent with its mission and research needs. The library's collection development policy serves to achieve a balanced collection with diverse points of view to stimulate intellectual thought on matters relating to the Middle East.
The acquisition and maintenance of e-resources that will allow members to benefit from access to scholarly material, regardless of their location, is a top priority for future collection development.
Additionally, the Oman Library seeks to provide increased access to cultural materials including works of modern and historical literature from and about the region, in alignment with the mission to promote cultural awareness.
Responsibility for Collection Development
Ultimate responsibility for decisions regarding the development and maintenance of the Oman Library collection rests with the head librarian. The librarian may assign responsibilities to part-time staff and interns as appropriate. Suggestions for the acquisition of materials are encouraged, however the final acquisition decision rests on the librarian and depends on various factors. Acquisition of materials is discussed below, in the “Criteria for Selection and Evaluation of Library Resources” section.
Responsibility for the Oman Collection portion of the library is delegated by institutional agreement to the librarian from the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. Since limited space is a concern for the whole Oman Library, the location of the Oman Collection is limited to the area in the passageway to the left of the reference desk, starting with the shelf beneath the portrait of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Criteria for Selection and Evaluation of Library Resources
The scope of the Oman Library covers all aspects of the Middle East and North Africa, including arts, culture, economics, environment, history, philosophy, religion, socio-political aspects, and military aspects. Other topics which may have been overlooked in this paragraph, but which support MEI’s projects and programs, or topics which represent new trends in MENA-focused scholarly research, may be determined to be within the scope of the Oman Library collection.
The Oman Library is committed to providing unbiased access to a balance of viewpoints on all issues relating to the Middle East and North Africa. The Oman Library will work to meet relevant collection standards issued by professional associations including Middle East Librarians Association (MELA), Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the American Library Association (ALA).
Materials will only be acquired if they are determined by the head librarian to be within the scope of the Oman Library’s selection criteria, are in good condition (or able to be easily repaired) and they do not duplicate an already-existing resource.
The librarian will strive to maintain a cross-section of media formats, topics, and viewpoints to meet patron needs and interests. Media formats include print materials such as books and maps, DVD’s, and electronic resources accessible via internet connection.
The librarian will attempt to maintain a balance of viewpoints on all issues regardless of surrounding controversy. There are several reasons for this. Libraries serve as a knowledge repositories for the research community. Researchers need access to arguments as well as counterarguments in order to obtain a complete picture of the issue(s) at hand. Students today know that Nazi propaganda targeted Jews and other minorities specifically because that propaganda is preserved in libraries. Similarly, access to Soviet propaganda is essential for the study of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. All publications of research value, including but not limited to trade and government publications, and privately printed material on all subjects, will be accessioned into the collection. Preference will be given to English-language publications but books in regional languages and French will be considered.
The Oman Library relies heavily on the generosity of donors for its collection development, and welcomes gifts of books and any other library materials which will enhance our collection and support the research and programs of MEI staff, fellows, members, and general public.
While nearly any gift books are accepted, we ask that books be donated with “no strings attached” when possible, and with the understanding that materials may be sold when determined to fall outside the scope of the library collection, duplicate pre-existing materials, or to be in poor condition. Materials that duplicate Oman Library items will be used to replace current items if the condition of the donated item is better than the condition of the pre-existing library book.
Items in the following categories are generally accepted:
First editions of well-known authors
Substantial works of scholarly interest
Works of literature and poetry by authors from the MENA region
Language acquisition materials (such as grammar or dual-language books)
Ephemera (such as pamphlets)
Other standard works
For reasons of space and in maintaining the scope of the Oman Library collection, the library cannot ordinarily accept books that are not germane to the collection. These items will be returned to the donor, sold at a book sale to benefit the library, or donated to another institution.
Gift Processing and Procedures
Donated books come directly to the librarian’s office for processing, which involves checking the condition of the items; analyzing the subjects of the materials; and checking Oman Library holdings and the holdings of other nearby libraries. If the gift is major or significant, the Development Department staff at MEI will be consulted so that appropriate acknowledgment may be made. Books accepted for the collection will be cataloged as soon as possible.
Gifts received by mail will be received as any other gift, however in case of rejection for acquisition, they will not be returned to the sender.
The librarian is currently undergoing a collection-wide assessment to determine which materials are outdated or in need of repair. The collection assessment is an on-going process which also serves the purpose of identifying “holes” or “gaps” in coverage that will need to be addressed.
Some materials that need repair but are determined to not be crucial to the collection due to overlap in topic with other materials may be removed from the catalog (or "weeded") and added to the library’s book sale. Other books that are outdated may also be weeded from the collection. In the case of outdated materials, the librarian will likely choose to acquire the updated version of the book to replace the previous edition. In the case where the previous edition is sufficiently different from the updated edition, both editions may be kept in the collection, however this is likely to be a rare occurrence.
To make a donation of books, please contact the librarian. To make a monetary donation to the library, please click here.