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Against The Grain Journal

Charleston Library Conference 

Dec 6, 2021

Today's episode features a conversation with Robin Dougherty, Librarian for Middle East Studies, and Interim Librarian for African Studies at Yale University. The interview was conducted by Matthew Ismail, Editor in chief of the Charleston Briefings and Conference Director at the Charleston Conference. 

Robin has been a librarian for 26 years, the last 10 of those being spent at Yale.  Robin’s first major job was at University of Pennsylvania as a Middle East Studies bibliographer. She then worked at University of Texas at Austin, in Cairo at the American University in Cairo and in England working as a corporate cataloguer.  Robin was also a Senior Arabic Cataloger for the Library of Congress.  

Robin talks with Matthew about first deciding to study Egyptology as a child, learning to speak Arabic in college to follow this dream, and then finding that college Arabic classes did not prepare one to effectively speak to the local population in Egypt.  Robin did two archeological expeditions and loves the movies and musical films of Egypt.  She worked in publishing at AUC Press when Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel prize for literature and talks about how interesting it was to watch the process as they became his exclusive agent. Robin left Egypt to attend University of Michigan Library School. She talks about how difficult it can be in the U.S. to acquire materials from Middle Eastern libraries today, and how having good relationships with Middle Eastern vendors is very helpful.