Arabic Collections Online (ACO) is an open access digital archive of public domain materials in Arabic language. Launched in 2013, this project is funded by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and intends to digitize more than 150,000 volumes from New York University and partner libraries collections over the course of five years. Contributing partners are the American University of Beirut, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, and Princeton University libraries.
The main page of ACO offers direct access to ten featured titles, but users looking for specific content can browse the index which includes more than 2774 titles. In both cases, the materials appear in a list. With the browsing feature, the list of results can be sorted by date of inclusion in ACO, and alphabetical order of title (English or Arabic), author (English or Arabic), place of publication (English or Arabic), or subject (English only). A search box available at the top right of the pages allows to look for specific search terms (i.e. title, author’s name, etc.). The current interface doesn't offer any possiblity to refine the search, and an andvanced search feature would be a great improvement.
By a click on the title, the item opens in a simple book reader, displaying by default one page of the book and English metadata in the left hand-side panel. It is worth noting that the metadata is available in both English and Arabic (right hand-side panel). The top menu includes six icons:
- the *information* icon hides/shows the metadata
- the next icon switches from single to double page reading and vice-versa
- the third icon displays a series of vignettes at the bottom of the screen from which users can select a page
- the magnifying glass icon enlarges and reduces images
- the left and right arrows allow to browse pages and navigate whithin the item
- last, the four arrows icon located at the top right corner of the screen enlarges the book reader to full-screen.
The metadata includes a permanent link to the item, as well as high and low resolution PDFs that can be read, downloaded, and printed without any restriction. The quality of scanning is excellent.
Arabic Collections Online website is fully bilingual, Arabic-English, displaying both languages simultaneously on each page.