Library receives gift of Middle Eastern collection

Syracuse University Library recently received the personal book collection of Khalil I. Semaan, professor emeritus of Arabic at Binghamton University. Semaan’s gift consists of about 3,000 items and constitutes his personal research library collected over a period of more than 40 years. The extensive collection provides a strong core of research support for SU’s developing Middle Eastern Studies Program.

The collection reflects Semaan’s particular interest in the study of the Middle East, Arabic and Islamic culture and history. Additional subject coverage includes the Crusades, medieval history (Middle East and Europe), linguistics, politics, economics, modern history and development. Consisting primarily of 20th-century items, the gift includes many seminal works in Arabic, English, French and German; significant runs of several periodical titles; and a number of items in Spanish, Persian and Hebrew. A particular strength of the collection is the number of works by modern and contemporary Arab literary writers.

“Professor Semaan’s gift represents the largest donation of books related to the Middle East in the University’s history and will help us improve our collection in the vernacular languages of this important region,” says Mehrzad Boroujerdi, founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at SU.

“Professor Semaan was particularly gratified for his collection to go to Syracuse University Library, in the knowledge that it would make a real contribution to the development of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies there,” says Ali Houissa, Middle East and Islamic studies librarian at Cornell University, who, along with Gurnek Singh, Asian studies librarian at SU Library (now retired), met with Semaan and conducted an on-site evaluation of the collection.

For more information on this collection, contact Martha Hanson, social sciences and area studies bibliographer, at 443-1947 or

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