American Univesity of Beirut

Launching of the Palestinian Oral History Archive (POHA)

​​​​The University Libraries proudly took part in the launch of the Palestinian Oral History Archive (POHA), which was announced during a two-day international conference, on June 12 and 13, organized by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, in collaboration with other project partners, namely, the Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts (AL-JANA), the Nakba Archive, and the AUB Libraries. 

The POHA project involves digitizing, indexing, cataloging, preserving, and providing access to approximately 1,000 hours of testimonies of first generation Palestinians and other members of the Palestinian community in Lebanon. The interviews, which were carried out by AL-JANA and the Nakba Archive, are largely personal narratives surrounding the Nakba, and cover folktales and songs, as well as stories of women in the Ayn al-Hilwah camp after its destruction in 1982.

The University Libraries’ role in this groundbreaking initiative has, so far, went through five milestones:

  1. Housing and preserving the original collection of the interviews
  2. Cataloging the collection
  3. Digitizing and indexing the interviews and developing a search & retrieval platform 
  4. Preserving the digitized material
  5. And finally, availing the archive to the wider public so that they use it for research, teaching and education purposes

The University Libraries will collaborate with all stakeholders in the future, to engage researchers, scholars, educators, and other interested parties in the use and continuous growth of the archive through workshops, exhibitions, conferences, and collection development.

In his remarks at the conference, Dr. Lokman Meho, University Librarian, thanked all the individuals and organizations who have worked so hard for several years to make this project come to fruition, namely:

  • AL-JANA organization, the Nakba Archives, IFI, NEH, AUB’s Office of Grants and Contracts, and members of the Advisory Board for their constant support
  • The indexers who were supported by IFI, NEH, and the University Libraries, including: Lara Azzam, Manar Fleifel, Joanne Boustany, Nourhan Shehab, Hana Haydar, and Sara Sweidan. Also thanks to Rayan El Amine from IFI.
  • And from the University Libraries: Dr. Kaoukab Chebaro who we dearly miss (our loss is Columbia’s gain), Fatmeh Charafeddine, Basma Chebani, Elie Kahale, Elie Abu Haydar, Dany Awwad, Sara Jawad, Layale Bassil, Maher Kasab, Mona Assi, and Hana Sleiman.

 “I was amazed but never surprised at the level of enthusiasm that these fine individuals have constantly shown while working on this collaborative project. . . The University Libraries team and I look forward to seeing this archive flourish and get the appropriate attention it deserves from scholars, researchers, and organizations worldwide. We also look forward to reading the research produced from this unique and valuable archive that we have preserved and made available to the public . . . "

"I personally feel very gratified to have supported this project from the very beginning and created the environment for its implementation, providing all the resources necessary for the University Libraries to fully adopt and efficiently carry it out. I am like you very proud today to see the archive up and running.” He added. 

Dr. Meho ended his speech by thanking President Khuri for providing the University Libraries with all the support necessary for advancing the library services and for embracing such important and influential projects. 

For more information about the project, see: 

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