Grand Opening: Archives and Special Collections

As we prepare to open our doors at long last, it is my pleasure to introduce the NYUAD Library division of Archives and Special Collections.

Sometime during this academic year you have probably seen, walked past, perhaps wandered into a largely vacant space in the back of the library with a banner at the front door announcing our presence. You may or may not have noticed the smaller, qualifying sign affixed to the banner: “Coming Soon”. Had you entered the space, you would have found a few rows of study tables – possibly without complementary chairs – and little else. While that space remains mostly empty (though it won’t be for long), behind closed doors our collections have arrived and grown. We’ve begun amassing rare books, archives, and unique audiovisual materials to support the work of NYUAD students, faculty and staff, as well as the research community in the UAE and beyond. So what do we have, and what are we doing? Glad you asked:

Book Collections

We have kept in mind three distinct focuses as we grow our collections of printed books and manuscripts. The most specific of these is the Global Shakespeare Collection, intended to support the work of NYUAD’s Global Shakespeare Project, which contains first and early printed editions of works in translation into several languages. Our Photobook Collection, developed in collaboration with Visual Arts faculty and the Akkasah Center for Photography, aims to trace the history of the photography book. Our general Special Collections contain works created in, referring to, or influenced by the Gulf, Indian Ocean, and Middle East Region, broadly understood – including Arabic poetry, travel narrative, Islamic science, political and cartographic works. Notable items in these areas include the first printed Shakespeare text in Italian (Julius Caesar, “translated” by Domenico Valentini, who knew no English, 1756), an early 20th-century photo album of the Arabian Gulf and Kashmir, and a 15th-century manuscript anthology of Arabic verse.

Click on the images to locate the books in Bobcat

Cover design, Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night's Dream), 1888

University Archives

As NYUAD matures, it is important to maintain a sense of where we came from, and how we grew and developed from the University’s founding. To that end, we have established the Archives and Special Collections as the final repository for the University’s Archives. These include administrative records, faculty papers, printed ephemera, audiovisual documentation of NYUAD events, and much more.

Archival Collections        

We have also begun building archival research collections to provide NYUAD with unique primary resources. A representative example of this is the growing Abu Dhabi Film Festival Collection. This collection will include films shown in the festival – with a focus on short films and work by Emirati and regional filmmakers – as well as archival records and ephemera associated with the festival.

All materials in Archives and Special Collections are available for access by the entire NYUAD Community, as well as qualified scholars not affiliated with NYUAD; all available books and films are searchable via Bobcat. Access is available in the Archives and Special Collections reading room, during opening hours or by appointment. For more information, or to make an appointment, please visit our webpage or contact us at We welcome thoughts, ideas, or suggestions for how the collections can grow to serve NYUAD’s research needs. We look forward to seeing you!