This post introduces readers to the rich resources of the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center at the Arab American National Museum, a research destination for Arab American scholars. Interested in visiting the collections yourself? Apply for the Museum’s 2016 Evelyn Abdalah Menconi Travel Grant.
The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich. – the only institution of its kind in the United States – documents, preserves and presents the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans. What you may not know is that the Museum is also home to a growing research space: the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center (L&RC). The L&RC administers the single largest collection of published materials by and about Arab Americans.
The physical holdings of the L&RC are extensive and include more than 4,000 books and 14 archival collections. Among the reading materials are three continually expanding special collections: the Community Cookbook Collection, the Geoff Marieb Johns Graphic Novel Collection, and the Arab Representations in Popular Fiction Collection, which features romance and mystery novels with stereotypical portrayals of Arabs, in an attempt to understand how these characterizations contribute to (mis)understanding of Arab culture. Of special note to academics is the large collection of theses and dissertations, spanning from the mid 20th century to present day.
The L&RC also houses a vertical file of non-rare but important documents, such as community directories from the 1980s and 1990s, brochures and newsletters from a series of Arab American organizations, unpublished or informally published works by scholars and researchers, as well as newspaper and magazine clippings from local and national publications.
On the web, the L&RC has some digital versions of rare Arab American texts, such as the 1908-09 Syrian Business Directory.
The archives contain a diverse object collection as well as some of the most important archival materials for Arab American scholars, including the papers of Evelyn Shakir and Michael Suleiman, drawn from notable individuals and organizations. Our newest project is our digital special collections, which is home to both digitized archival materials and born-digital materials, like oral histories and “digital scrapbooks.”
Researchers can access the archives by visiting the L&RC during regular business hours on Wednesday-Saturday or by special appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is recommended that you alert the Librarian of your visit ahead of time to ensure that the materials will be available and ready for your use.
Additionally, the L&RC is open to the public Wednesday – Sunday. The L&RC offers a comfortable space to conduct research and is equipped with free WiFi. Researchers can also access the Community History Studio, which offers an array of equipment, such as a large format scanner, Mac computer, microphone, and video camera to aid in your research and writing. Members of the Museum may also check out books from the library collection.
In addition to operating this research space, the L&RC administers two national programs: the Arab American Book Awards and the Evelyn Abdalah Menconi Travel Grant. The Book Awards is a literary program created to honor non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and children’s/YA books written by and about Arab Americans. The program generates greater awareness of Arab American scholarship and writing through a yearly competition and educational outreach. The Travel Grant is awarded annually to a scholar to spend a week in residence conducting research at the Museum and in the Dearborn community.
For more information, or to work with the archival materials, contact Librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at (313) 624-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ahlan wa Sahlan!
Kirsten Terry-Murphy is the librarian at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., where she facilitates the annual Arab American Book Awards and manages the largest collection of books written by and about Arab Americans. She serves on the board of directors of the Detroit Area Library Network. Kirsten received her M.S. from the University of Michigan’s School of Information in 2013.