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Large expansion of contemporary Moroccan collections

The Netherlands Institute in Marocco (NIMAR) has recently added more than 1000 titles to the Leiden University Library (UBL) collection at our location in Rabat. Faculty Liaison Tijmen Baarda and Information Specialist Koen de Cuyper acquired these works at the prestigious Casablanca book fair – the Salon International de l' Édition et du Livre (SIEL). The SIEL book fair fulfills a vital role in the exchange of literature and knowledge in Northern Africa.

Berber Literature

The visit yielded some very interesting contemporary publications. Among the most notable were a collection of Berber Literature, written in the Tamazight language, that was heretofore underrepresented in the Leiden University Library and NIMAR collections. Furthermore, Tijmen en Koen acquired a set of local histories for NIMAR, written by local historians about their localities or communities. These two sets of works are mainly interesting for members of our Humanities faculty. NIMAR also aims at making Moroccan and Arabic research in the social sciences available for a wider scientific audience. To achieve this aim NIMAR has secured a representative sample of social science publications from the University of Rabat.

SIEL is essential for collection building

A visit to an North-African book fair is an interesting venture in and of itself, but also quite a necessity in the region for an institute like NIMAR. ‘Distribution of Arabic books is complex’ said Tijmen Baarda, ‘you either get [scholarly] books directly from the publishing house or from very expensive vendors.’ Moreover, distribution networks are often opaque and hard to access for outsiders, especially where smaller publishing houses are concerned. Because of this dynamic, acquiring the most recent scholarly literature is often a struggle. By visiting book fairs, NIMAR not only keeps its collection up-to-date, but also is able to create new and affirm old relationships that could smooth the process of collection building in the future.

Newly acquired NIMAR collection in preparation for transport
Newly acquired NIMAR collection in preparation for transport

Next step: cataloguing

Besides his role in the acquisition process, NIMAR’s Information Specialist Koen de Cuyper is assigned to the vital task of leading the cataloguing process of the newly acquired collections. Due to staff shortages this task has been lagging behind somewhat, but NIMAR’s aim is to proceed with the cataloguing process within the coming year. Once included in the catalogue, the NIMAR collections will be brought over from Rabat to the Leiden University Libraries and available for research- and educational purposes. Furthermore, Koen will be focusing on a broad search for older literary, primary source material. Especially this category is not only interesting for researchers, but also for undergrads ‘Arabic language and culture’ in search of an interesting thesis topic.

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