In the Bubble: The Case of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Research in the Time of COVID-19

Laila Hussein Moustafa, Anaïs Salamon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In early March 2020, a global COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of a large majority of academic institutions including libraries, archives, and cultural heritage institutes in North America and around the world. As we write this article, almost two years later, the situation remains critical, and most universities continue to offer online teaching while most libraries provide remote access to their resources. This article presents the results of a survey that was designed and circulated to faculty and students at US and Canadian universities in the summer of 2020. This article aims to draw a portrait of the state of research in the Summer of 2020 and seeks to understand how libraries and users customized their access to resources during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The article identifies the main challenges faced by scholars in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies to develop, pursue, or complete research projects during the pandemic, and the strategies implemented to make up for the loss of access to primary source materials and field research. The article also highlights immediate initiatives developed by academic and research libraries to support the research community, and demonstrates how these responses to the crisis matched their institution’s strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-311
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Library Administration
Issue number3
Early online dateMar 21 2022
StatePublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Islamic studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • South Asian studies
  • academic librarianship
  • archives
  • area studies librarianship
  • fieldwork
  • pandemic
  • research activities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Library and Information Sciences


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