May 2021


MELCom UK Statement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and a plea for peace

The UK Middle East Libraries Committee stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We condemn the attacks on Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem and the ongoing apartheid, dispossession and erasure of Palestinians.

We are not remaining silent in the wake of renewed acts of violence towards peoples whose history our profession is founded upon, when calling out for the decolonisation of our bookshelves.

With this statement, we affirm our own commitment to speaking out in defence of peace, justice, human rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, who have been disproportionally effected by the attacks. We reaffirm our commitment against all forms of racism, including antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arabism.

We also learn with sadness of losses to Palestinian cultural heritage with the complete destruction of Samir Mansour and Shaaban Aslem’s book shop Iqra, two of the largest bookshops of Gaza, and of the raid and vandalism by Israeli armed forces of the arts centre and archive of Dar Jacir in Bethlehem. 

We call on all academic communities, cultural institutions and especially libraries and archives with a connection to Middle Eastern Studies to add their voices and act in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

We affirm the statement of our sister organization MELA.

Prepared on behalf of MELCom UK

Some further readings about Palestine:

We urge you to consider donating to:

Medical Aid for Palestinians:

Iqra Bookshop Go Fund Me page:

Samir Mansour Bookshop Go Fund Me page: 


August 2020

MELCom UK statement on Black Lives Matter

The Middle East Libraries Committee United Kingdom (MELCom UK) is committed to equality, inclusion and working towards social justice for all. We condemn the systemic racism and injustices that have been meted on the black community, which has resulted in the brutal killings of George Floyd, and others, and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement protesting his killing and wider injustices.

MELCom UK stands with the Black community and all other underrepresented and underprivileged communities against all forms of racism, whether overt, insidious, or structural, and we encourage our members to do the same.

Racism and discrimination are experienced by marginalised and disadvantaged community members every day, and the library profession is not exempt from these scourges. It is vital for people of conscience to become engaged in some form of raising awareness and actively calling out and condemning all forms of racism.

We, therefore, encourage our members to engage with members of the underrepresented communities, whether colleagues or library service users, to understand their reality and to understand the challenges they encounter on a daily basis. It is essential that we, as librarians and information professionals, take it upon ourselves to further research these issues and engage with initiatives at our institutions and on professional, academic, or social platforms. The burden should not always be on the marginalised to educate others on such issues. The lack of diversity within the library profession has been well documented to be an ongoing concern for an exceptionally long time. 

In an attempt to address such concerns, MELCom UK will engage our membership and raise awareness to address such issues. MELCom UK and the library profession must be part of the solution and we will endeavour to address this resolutely. MELCom UK, as an organisation representing a portion of the “Global South,” is well placed to encourage and aide the wider library profession to become more inclusive and representative. Therefore, we are committed to assist librarians, academics, book suppliers, booksellers, and publishers to support their decolonisation and diversification efforts, and in doing so, to become more representative of the stakeholders and regions they purport to study or represent.

January 2019

The Board of MELCOM UK writes an open letter to the Directors of SOAS University of London to express its opposition to the proposed SOAS University Library cuts. The full letter can be viewed here in the PDF attached.

SOAS Library Letter – A plea from MELCOM UK

July 2017

2017 marks the 50 year anniversary of the MELCOM association, which first convened in Cambridge in June 1967 before it branched off to become MELCom international and MELCOM UK. For the 95th meeting in July 2017 we will be joining up both branches in MELCOM’s “birthplace” for the occasion of celebrating 50 years of a successful association of librarians around the world, with special recognition given to the founders. The Pearson memorial lecture will be delivered in three parts, by former MELCOM members in a “jubilee” panel, followed by round table discussion. For more information and the full programme please see the MELCom International website.




January 2012

Cambridge University Library is pleased to announce the release of the first items within the Foundations of Faith collection:
a selection of digitised Islamic Manuscripts from its Near and Middle Eastern Department.

The Digital Library provides excellent quality images that constitute an invaluable teaching and research resource in the fields of Qur’anic Studies, Codicology, Calligraphy and History of the Book.

Images can be downloaded and reused under a CC non-commercial licence.




December 2011

The 87th meeting of MELCOM (UK) will take place on Monday 26th March 2012 at London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). The business meeting will be in the late morning and the Pearson lecture at 2 pm. The speaker is Professor Charles Melville and the title is: “Books as history in medieval Iran”. More details will follow shortly.




April 2011

The 86th meeting of MELCOM (UK) will take place at the University of Exeter on Wednesday 29th June 2011 at 11.30am. It will be followed at 2.30pm by the 12th Pearson lecture entitled “The novelist as political guide: Sun’ Allah Ibrahim and the Egyptian revolution” by Professor Paul Starkey (University of Durham).




December 2010

The 85th meeting of MELCOM (UK) will take place in Meeting Room 4 of the Conference Centre, the British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, on Monday 10th January 2011 starting at 1 pm.

The meeting will commence with three brief presentations on current projects –

  • Annabel Gallop : “Lasting impressions” on a photographic exhibition on Islamic seals.
  • Peter Colvin : The Yale/SOAS Digitisation project.
  • Yasmin Faghihi and Alasdair Watson: The Oxford/Cambridge Islamic Manuscripts Project (OCIMCO).

These will be followed by the business meeting.