In response to the tragic displacement of people and losses of life in conflict zones, and to ongoing threats to the cultural heritage of the Middle East through destruction, looting, and illegal trade, the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME) proposes to federate Middle Eastern collections from around the world, creating a publicly accessible, seamlessly interoperable digital library of cultural material.
The DLME is a worldwide effort to federate all types of cultural heritage material, including archives, manuscripts, museum objects, media, and archaeological and intangible heritage collections. The core principle of our collaboration is that of service to partners and peoples across the Middle East and North Africa—to help reveal, share, honor, and protect collections of cultural materials and the living and historical cultures they represent.
The DLME provides a digital platform that federates digital records of accessible artifacts ranging across twelve millennia. It incorporates metadata describing many aspects of each object or document, including its sometimes contested meaning or significance, its history, and its provenance when available. The DLME is accessible through desktop computers, tablets, and phones, and it will be continually augmented though subsequent generations of scholarly input, crowd-sourcing, and new knowledge discovered through its use. By providing accessibility and encouraging documentation and digitization, the DLME implements international cultural preservation goals and can help mitigate looting and the illegal resale of heritage materials.
In developing an extensible, open source platform and sophisticated tools and applications, we are creating a non-proprietary, globally accessible library of immediate importance, which over time may serve as a model for digital libraries of cultural and scientific heritage of other regions similarly under threat from conflict, environmental danger, or political instability and curtailment of human rights.