Iranian Books at the LOC

The U.S. and Iran have signed an agreement to share library materials, a move which will enable the Library of Congress to acquire material from the Islamic Republic for its collections.

In a statement Tuesday, Billington said: “The agreement we signed will help fill a 25-year gap in the library’s collection of materials published in Persian and other languages of Iran – a move that will benefit not only the Congress but also scholars of the Middle East.”

The agreement was signed on November 4, which, if I’m not mistaken is the anniversary of the infamous takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. While I think this is a fantastic development, sure to help scholars and students, I find it a little odd. On the one hand, it signals the U.S. government’s understanding that material of a literary nature should be made freely available to readers; on the other, it stands in sharp contrast to the current OFAC rules, which forbid people like Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi to publish her memoir in the United States. Under the current rules, editors and publishers cannot provide any editorial or translation service for material from “Axis of Evil” countries, including Iran. Go figure.

Previous posts on the topic: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Seattle P.I. link from Michael Schaub at Bookslut.