A Conversation with Dr. Kioumars Ghereghlou, Stanford Libraries' New Middle East Curator

Dr. Kioumars Ghereghlou joined Stanford in September 2021 as the new Middle East Collections Curator at Stanford Libraries. In this interview, Dr. Ghereghlou gives an account of his role in collecting and managing library materials related to Iran, Turkey and the Arabic-speaking world, and discusses the growing archival collection on modern Iran.  We sat down with him to learn more about his work and research. 

Could you speak to your background as it relates to your role?

My background is History (PhD, 2006, Beheshti University in Tehran), and I have also completed a master's degree in Information Science at Rutgers University. Before joining Stanford, I worked in a similar position at the Columbia University Libraries, taking care of cataloging library materials in Persian, Turkish, and Arabic and processing orders with various vendors in Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq.

What are your curatorial assignments at Stanford Libraries? 

As a subject librarian (here at the Stanford Libraries), I am responsible for planning and overseeing the collection and management of library materials primarily in Persian, Turkish, and Arabic. These include traditional scholarly publications (print and digital), special collections and archival materials, and materials published via emerging forms of scholarly communication. I select and acquire materials and provide advanced reference services that support the research and teaching needs of Stanford students, faculty, and researchers specializing in Iran, Turkey, and all Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa. I also collaborate with other curators to ensure that our collections and services remain as interdisciplinary as possible.

How do the Iran archives at the Hoover Library and Archives (HLA) compliment your work?

The Iran-related collections made available through the Hoover Library and Archives are indispensable for upper-level research and teaching in contemporary Iranian Studies. Overall, the Hoover Archives and Green Library are home to a dozen collections of archival materials covering various aspects of society and politics in 20th-century Iran. The most important collection in terms of size and coverage is the Ardeshir Zahedi Papers. Mr. Zahedi (1928-2021), a son-in-law of the Mohammad Reza Shah of Iran, served as a leading diplomat and cabinet member during the 1960s-70s, and his collection consists of several hundred boxes of archival materials and government documents. In addition, the collection contains the papers of Mr. Zahedi's father, Fazlollah Zahedi, a general who occupied the post of prime minister in the 1950s. The Zahedi Archives are indispensable for any scholar or student whose research is related to Mohammad Reza Shah, Iranian foreign relations, Iran-US relations, the Cold War, the events of August 1953, and Iranian dissidents in Europe and the US.

What are you currently working on and what is the focus of your own research?

I am working on a series of LibGuide pages for Iranian, Turkish, and Arabic Studies to be posted on the Libraries' new website expected to be launched by the end of this year. I am also working on some major acquisition projects which are going to be collected as donations in kind. One of the acquisition projects involves a major collection of print materials related to Iran as well as a collection of government documents and personal archives covering women’s rights in contemporary Iran. As to research projects, my interests are early modern Iran and Middle Eastern manuscripts from the early years of the 15th to the close of the 19th centuries. I am working on two manuscripts related to trends and events in 16th and 17th-century Iran. In addition, Professor Milani and I are preparing a 6-volume edition of the late Fakhr al-Din Shadman's diaries covering the years between 1926 and 1966. The first volume is almost ready and should be with the publisher before the end of this year. The Shadman papers is one of the latest collections I am about to add to our Iran-related collections at the Green Library.    

What is on the horizon for the Iranian archives at Stanford?

One of my goals is to turn the Stanford University Libraries into a major center of excellence for archival collection and research on contemporary Iranian society and politics. We have already acquired some of the best collections in the field, thanks primarily to Professor Milani's indefatigable efforts and visionary leadership over the past two decades. I am committed to expanding the size and number of archival collections that deal with Iran and Iranian Studies. The most challenging task, however, is allocating limited resources to digitize collections in order to make them available online to users around the globe.

What do you wish more people knew about the Iranian archive/ collection at Stanford?

Together with the Hoover Library and Archives, the Stanford University Libraries is home to a dozen print and archival collections related to Iran. My goal is to add new collections and make sure that we share knowledge of these resources with our community here at Stanford and with visitors from around the world. So far as the field of Iranian Studies is concerned, the most notable collections are as follows:

These collections should be digitized and made available online to all users. This is a major project that requires the support and cooperation of all stakeholders at local and global levels.