UNO Libraries makes issues of Afghan newspaper Kārawān freely available online


Zach Gilbert

The Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library is the primary source of academic information for students at UNO. Photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska Omaha.

As of Sept. 4, UNO Libraries made issues of the Afghan newspaper Kārawān freely available online for students and staff to access and download from DigitalCommons@UNO.

By digitizing the available issues of Kārawān and providing online access to all UNO personnel and the student body at large, the university is improving its ability to expose Mavericks to rich and diverse cultures that they may have otherwise not been aware of.

Previously, all issues of Kārawān (or Caravan, when translated into English) were solely held in the UNO Library Archives and Special Collections, which “acquires and preserves unique, rare and specialized [historical] materials,” according to the official website. The Kārawān was a part of the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection, one of the largest collections of materials and artifacts about the history and culture of Afghanistan in the country.

The collection held all but approximately 175 newspaper issues of the over 1,200 issues of Kārawān that were published between Sept. 23, 1968, and July 16, 1973. Kārawān was published during the last years of the monarchy in Afghanistan, before the government was overthrown by Mohammed Daoud Khan in July 1973 in a military coup.

This digitization process was funded by Fran and Will Irwin, who initially took interest in the issues of Kārawān in 2017. The Irwins worked alongside now-emeritus professor Bob Nash, Special Collections and Rare Books Librarian, and all involved emphasized the idea of offering online access of the newspaper in order to allow any interested academics to view issues no matter their geographic location.

They were aided by former Digital Initiatives Librarian Yumi Ohira, who supervised student worker Ryan Diego’s efforts to digitize the Kārawān from 2018 to 2019. Institutional Repository Coordinator Kate Ehrig-Page helped coordinate access to issues through DigitalCommons@UNO.

Bezhan Muradi and Fazila Muradi helped bring the project to completion in 2020, as they generated metadata for the Kārawān that made it accessible for both English and Persian readers. As a result, each issue now includes dates from both the Gregorian and Persian calendars. Thanks to the Muradis’ efforts, the newspaper is accessible for any UNO student or staff member of any cultural background.

Though the digitization of the Kārawān is finished, UNO Libraries hopes to maintain their acquisition of diverse cultural resources.

“As we complete this stage of the project, we look forward to the continued use and growth of the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection,” UNO Libraries said in their official news release.