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Library Story

When Bethlehem University opened in 1973 the library was located in a classroom on the ground floor of the main building, now named De La Salle Hall.  The collection consisted of 525 books and there were two persons on the staff.  In those early years the university depended on generous benefactors to provide books.  They came both from individuals and organizations.

A new era originated in 1977 with the construction and opening of the new library building designed by architect Francesco Montana. The Catholic hierarchy of Germany through the Agency of Misereor, the Catholic Center Development Agency, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, and the friends of Bethlehem University funded the construction.

In the beginning years the second floor was used for science teaching and storage.  Soon after the Audiovisual Center was established, followed by the special collections for Palestiniana.  By 1983 the total collection had grown to 27,000.

The modern era came in 1995 when the card catalog was created on an electronic database.  The age of computers arrived with Internet service, access to electronic periodical databases and the use of CD-ROM resources.  A major development was the construction in 2000 of Turathuna: Center for Palestinian Heritage funded by Development Cooperation Ireland.

A major transition occurred in 2005-2006 with the conversion to a new library management system,  The system contains six integrated modules: acquisitions, cataloging, serials, circulation, OPAC (online public access catalog), and administration.  Implementing the new system completely has removed the need to maintain the traditional card catalog.  It was designed by Noursoft Software Development in Ramallah and tailored to the Arabic language.  The Bethlehem University Foundation has provided the funds for the purchase.

In the spirit of a globalized network of sharing digital information, the Library embarked on the project of digitization in 2009.

The unwavering and much-appreciated support of the Vice Chancellor, Brother Peter Bray, enabled the Library to receive two grant awards from the New Zealand Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, for the purchase of a streaming server and high-powered computers.

Our Library story continues, as we journey, “together and by association”, challenged by Brother Peter’s words: “Is there a better way?”


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