The Middle East Librarians Association has given Senior Librarian Dr. Rachel Simon the 2022 David H. Partington Award “in recognition of her sterling record of research and publications and her contributions to the field of Middle East studies in general and Middle East librarianship in particular. The award is also made in recognition of her 24 years of service as the book-review editor of MELA Notes.” Simon, who started working at Princeton in 1990, is the leader of the Library’s Middle East Approvals Section and catalogs Hebrew, Turkish, and Ottoman books. In addition to serving as the MELA Notes book-review editor for twenty-five years, Simon was editor of Mideast File (1982-1986), co-editor of National Union Catalog of Middle East Microfilms (1990), and network editor on Judaism in the modern Middle East and North Africa for the Religious Studies Review, and she chaired the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Research, Academic, and Special Libraries’ Cataloging Committee (1995-1999). She has published two books: The Jewish Community of Libya at the Late Ottoman Period (Tel-Aviv: Open University, 1987) [in Hebrew], Libya between Ottomanism and Nationalism: The Ottoman Involvement in Libya during the War with Italy” (1911–1919) (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1987), and Change within Tradition Among Jewish Women in Libya (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992), as well as countless articles in both Hebrew and English.
Simon is the second Princeton librarian to win the Partington Award. Joyce Bell, who joined the Library’s staff in 1990 as an Arabic cataloger and retired as the Director of Cataloging & Metadata Services in 2019, won the Award in 2020. Two other winners with one-time Princeton Library ties are Joan Biella, who won in 2013, and David Hirsch, who won in 2016.
Established in 2004, the Partington Award honors David H. Partington, long-time head of the Middle East Department of the Harvard University Libraries, and grants “public and tangible recognition to its members who have displayed a high standard of excellence and accomplishments in and contributions to the field of Middle East librarianship, librarianship in general, and the world of scholarship.” Partington also has NES ties. He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1961 in Oriental Studies, the predecessor of today’s Near Eastern Studies, with a dissertation entitled “The Nisab Al-Ihtisab, an Arabic religio-legal text.”