From Atifa Rawan and Yan Han, University of Arizona Libraries
Tuscon, Arizona The last quarter-century of turmoil and civil wars has been devastating in Afghanistan with an uninterrupted period of invasions and oppressive regimes. The impacts of these devastations have been especially enormous on libraries and higher education institutions in the country. Libraries had been totally shut down, ruined and/or destroyed. Currently, there are many challenges facing the country to rebuild these institutions to become more functional. Many projects and efforts are now underway to restore or to rebuild these institutions from ground zero.
One such effort is the creation of Afghanistan digital libraries (http://www.afghandata.org) by librarians at the University of Arizona Libraries (UAL). Atifa Rawan and Yan Han, librarians at UAL have been involved since 2002 in the preservation and restoration of academic libraries in Afghanistan. As part of their digital efforts, they have also created a large-scale digitization project and worked collaboratively with Afghanistan Center at Kabul University (ACKU) since 2007 in digitizing and providing open access to their permanent collection. ACKU staff perform digitization activities in Kabul, Afghanistan, while quality control and reviews are completed at UAL in Tucson, Arizona, USA.
The ACKU collection is built by Nancy Hatch Dupree, an internationally recognized expert in history, art, culture and archaeology of Afghanistan. The collection includes materials in Dari, Pashto and English languages and is running in DSpace on Amazon Cloud (EC2).
Because of this collaborative effort, the ACKU collection (http://www.afghandata.org) is now openly accessible worldwide to researchers, educators, and policy makers. The collection currently consists of 2,300 titles (236,000 pages) covering the time period of 1920s – 2006, making it the largest Afghanistan materials online. More titles will be added in the near future. The project is partially funded by National Endowment for the Humanities and two institutional own funding.