This prototype is our first publicly available version of the open source platform of the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME), an initial step on what will be a collaborative journey to reach the salient goals for the DLME – making accessible the records that showcase the tremendous efflorescence of culture in the Middle East; contributing to security and sustainability by encouraging inventory creation, cataloguing, documentation, and digitization of collections; and creating a community of interest that seeks collaboration among people, organizations, and countries who value this heritage.

Developed by an engineering team from CLIR and the Stanford Libraries, the platform federates and makes accessible material in collections around the world in a straightforward, intuitive way (for a more technical overview, look here). At launch, we have 135,000 representative records from a variety of collections, including the Penn Museum, the American Numismatic Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for Geographic Analysis - Harvard University, the Stanford Libraries, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, and Professor David Anderson. Other prototype contributors include the Antiquities Coalition, the Johns Hopkins University Libraries, the Princeton University Libraries, the Qatar National Library, and the Yale University Libraries.The predominantly domestic focus was determined by the need for expediency and available funds; the next phase includes partnerships with, and resource federation on behalf of, over a hundred institutions, organizations, and individuals in the Middle East and North Africa region whose insights and content represent a remarkable contribution to the understanding of the culture of the Middle East, and should provide an unprecedented opportunity for future discovery, research, and teaching.

The prototype would not be possible without the support and sensitive guidance of the Whiting Foundation and its Executive Director, Daniel Reid. We are confident that this prototype, as it evolves and develops over time, will mature into a living, portable platform for other similarly scaled projects around the world, and remain profoundly grateful to all current and future partners in this ever widening community of interest and practice in service to our shared cultural heritage.

DLME Founding Organizations

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning and serves at the incubator of the DLME. Among CLIR’s programs and a core DLME contributor is the Digital Library Federation (DLF), an international network of member institutions and a robust community of practice advancing research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies.

The Antiquities Coalition is leading the global fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis.

Key Partners


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Digital Library Federation have generously provided funding for prototyping and planning of the Digital Library of the Middle East. We are grateful for their support.