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CBRL staff outlines move to new Jabal Luweibdeh headquarters

AMMAN — The Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) was established in 1919 as the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.

Over one hundred years since its founding, the CBRL now operates as a UK charity to produce and disseminate original, rigorous independent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and facilitate UK-Levantine academic collaborations, partnerships and knowledge exchange.

In March 2022, the CBRL Amman Institute in Jordan moved from Tla Al Ali to Jabal Luwebdeih.

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered that decision,” said noted Amman operations manager Firas Baqain, adding that pandemic restrictions prevented scholars from travelling freely to Jordan.

“We were left with this big building and a two floor hostel that was empty for two years due to the pandemic. Also, young scholars preferred the downtown area and Jabal Luwebdeih instead of Tla Al Ali, which for them was too far,” Baqain said.

“We found buildings with different accessibility, size and location within the downtown range,” Baqain said.

“At the end, we found this place and it satisfied our objectives while we needed few months to completely settle down,” Baqain added.

The aim of the CBRL is to improve the relationship between the Levant and the UK, provide funding for scholars — both British and local — and to improve educational opportunities, noted Robert Bewley, chairman of the CBRL board of directors.

“One of our priorities is to digitise information. We have lots of records that need to be digitised,” Bewley said.

The new location provides better access to the library than the previous location in Tla Al Ali, Bewley highlighted.The public impression is that the library is more spacious and friendlier, Balqin stated. 

According to Baqain, the CBRL donated 7,000 volumes of archaeological journals to the University of Jordan Department of Archaeology and Tourism because the university wanted to launch their own branch of the library on campus.

“The CBRL library itself has around 8,000 specialised books and various publications that cover humanities, archeology, history, political science and geography,” Baqain added.

“Luweibdeh is a cultural hub, and we are collaborating with Darkroom Amman by donating our collection of photographs. We are still thinking about the dynamics, and what’s the best way to manage and provide the annual service at the library. We want to practise freedom of research and exchange of ideas,” he said.