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This paper aims to investigate the ambivalent identity of librarians supporting Middle Eastern studies in North America (Canada and the United States), and Western Europe (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), as well as in North American and European institutions located in the Middle East (such as the Library of Congress, American Universities Libraries, or French Research Institutes) in 2014. To do so, the article focuses first on the emergence and evolution of the profession, then on the demographics, training and competencies of the professional community, and last on their perceptions of both characteristics of, and challenges faced by the profession.This research is based on the collection and analysis of primary and secondary sources. After a thorough review of the existing literature on Middle Eastern studies libraries, librarians1 and librarianship, a survey was conducted among librarians working in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East between June 9 and July 6, 2014. Through an analysis of the survey answers, I sought to glean a better understanding of professionals active in this field in 2014.Middle Eastern studies librarianship, in spite of fundamental differences inherent to each area studies specialization, shares many similarities with specialized librarianship on other geographic areas. This paper could therefore be used as a model for research on librarians serving the teaching and research community on other areas, or as a base to compare Middle Eastern studies librarianship with other area studies librarianship.
Journal: The Journal of Academic Librarianship - Volume 41, Issue 5, September 2015, Pages 644–652