Bibliothèques d’Orient / مكتبات شرقية

Initiated in 2016, Bibliothèque d’Orient is a collaborative effort of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) and seven heritage and research libraries based in Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Istanbul, and Jerusalem. Bibliothèque d’Orient is an ever-growing digital collection that currently (Sept. 2017) includes over 7,000 textual documents, photographs, maps, etc. covering the Levant including Iraq and Arabia Petrea from 1798 (i.e. Expedition of Bonaparte to Egypt) to 1945.

The website is organized in seven  themes discoverable from the content page (above):

  • Crossroads includes photographs, travel accounts, travel books, maps, etc.
  • Communities includes documents relating to the everyday life of people and their traditions
  • Religions focuses on the religions present in the area as well as holy places
  • Knowledge gathers a variety of documents about libraries, research institutions, and languages studies
  • Politics is further divided in four themes: Wars and conflicts, Treaties and borders, Reforms, and Nationalisms
  • Imaginery focuses on literary sources
  • Personalities (incomplete section) presents people identified as important.

All documents are accessible full-text, and can be either read online, downloaded (PDF), printed, or shared. It is also possible to order art reproductions for a fee.

The website is available in Arabic, French, and English, but the online reader interface is only in French.

Open Access Newspaper Archive: القدس = al-Quds = al-Kouds (1908-1914)

Al-Quds open archive is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University (CPS)  and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah. Since its foundation in 2010, to honor the legacy of Professor Edward Said who taught at Columbia University for forty years, the Center for Palestine Studies has been involved numerous projects including the publication of the Jerusalem Quarterly, a film based project called Dreams of a Nation, and Al-Quds open archive.

Al-Quds open archive includes 392 issues published between 1908 and 1914. The Index allows visitors to access the scanned issues by number. Documents first display in a reader, and the PDF file opens when clicking on the pop-out icon located at the top right hand side of the document. Those high definition PDFs can be downloaded and printed.

The website is in English.

Farabi Digital Library

IRCICA Farabi Digital Library is a project aiming at facilitating and supporting libraries make their digital collections available to worldwide scholars. To do so, IRCICA developed a  stand alone software allowing libraries to easily display their digital materials, and hosts the digital library.

Some of the most respected Turkish libraries are using the Farabi software: Atatürk Library, Beyazıt State Library and Süleymaniye Library. And IRCICA is opened to establish new partnerships, develop new kinds of cooperation, and provide support to any library that has a digital collection.

The Farabi Digital Library provides access to a great number of books, periodicals, photographs, postcards, maps, mostly in Ottoman Turkish, French and English. In order to access the full content of the digital library, visitors need to create a free account. Once logged in, it is possible to browse, read, listen and -if available- obtain a translation of the item consulted into sixteen different languages. Although the translation is far from being of the highest quality, the feature will be appreciated by students or researchers lacking language skills, but still wanting to get a broad sense of the topic of a page.

The Farabi Digital Library proposes two viewers looking different but offering exactly the same features (display, flip pages, enlarge, search, and share) are available: the Farabi Reader, and the Flip Book reader. Digital materials are full-text searchable in original script.

The digital library can be searched in English with refining options (by Institution, media type, author, date, publisher, language or subject) offered in the left-hand side menu. In addition, it is possible to save searches, and add selected items to a list to a list of Favorites.

The interface is available in both Turkish and English.

L’Afrique en cartes: Gallica.fr

The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) recently added to Gallica digital library a rich collection of historical maps of Africa. L’Afrique en cartes includes almost a thousand maps dating from the 14th to the 20th century.

The maps collection can be accessed, browsed, and searched either by date, or by geographical location (countries or colonial entities). Maps are scanned in very high definition, allowing for thorough on-screen examination. Download (in pdf), sharing and printing are permitted, and visitors can even order a reproduction for a fee.

Note that Gallica only makes available materials published before 1948 so that they are out of copyright. The website is in French.

Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ)

The Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ) is an initiative of Middle Eastern Open Access activists aiming at producing a directory of all open access (OA) scientific journals produced in Arab countries. DFAJ currently includes 250 journals  from 172 publishers in 17 Arab countries. The directory is published under a CC-BY-NC license. Initially launched in 2013, a new version was released in March 2017.

Currently, DFAJ offers the following features:

  • a listing of all Arab scholarly journals that are openly available on the internet
  • hyperlinks to the listed journals and their publishing organizations
  • standard information such as ISSN, publisherp, country of publication, frequency, keywords, etc.
  • a journals’ browsing by field/discipline capability, as well as an advanced search feature
  • a form to suggest new journals
  • information about the peer-review process as well as indexing in international databases (Scopus & Directory of Open Access Journals)
  • the ability to create a personal account to save favorite journals

According to the directory’s owners, future developments include:

  • making the interface bilingual Arabic-English (it is only in Arabic)
  • transforming the current website in a portal steering discussion about, and advocating for open access in the Arab Middle East
  • providing guidance for editors and publishers on how to create and maintain OA journals
  • suggesting repository management software.

Koç University Manuscript Collection

Some 299 manuscripts in Ottoman Turkish, Turkish, English, French, Latin, Arabic and Persian on a variety of topics from Koç University Collection are now available online. Stored on Koç University institutional repository, the scans are accompanied by extremely detailed and lengthy descriptions.

Navigation features include two menus located on the right-hand side of the book viewer: a thumbnails menu, and a content menu. Digitized manuscripts only open in the book reader with the possibility to enlarge full screen, fit to window, or rotate pages. Unfortunately it is not possible to download or save the digitized manuscripts. The resolution of images is however high enough to allow a thorough examination of items on-screen.

koc-university-manuscript-collection

An open archive of Etchmiadzin/Էջմիածին

Etchmiadzin (Էջմիածին) magazine has been published since 1944 by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Including records of the Armenian Church, as well as Armenian studies articles, it is considered to be the continuation of another monthly journal entitled “Ararat” which was founded in 1868 by the Catholicos Gevorg IV.

All issues of Etchmiadzin have been digitized and are accessible on the journal’s website. Users can browse either by year, subject (English search terms) or author. They can also search the entire archive using the search box at the top right of the pages or the advanced search feature.

Documents are available as high definition color PDFs, and are published under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence permitting download, printing, reuse, modification, distribution, copy as long as the original authors and source are properly cited.

Periodicals of Hakkı Tarık Us Collection

This digital collection of Hakkı Tarık Us periodicals is a collaborative project of the Beyazıt State Library, and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Hakkı Tarık Us Collection -currently housed at the Beyazıt State Library in Istanbul- includes Ottoman periodicals,  books, yearbooks, almanacs and salname’s. The collection was named after its owner, Mr. Hakkı Tarık Us (1889-1956), and kept in an independent library after his passing. Between 2003 and 2010, the Beyazıt State Library, and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies proceeded to the cataloguing, digitization, and publication of 1366 periodicals.

Note that the files are in DjVu format, which is an open-source alternative to Adobe Acrobat PDF documents. In order to open them, visitors will need to download the DjVuLibre program.

The website is in English.

 

A database for Ottoman Inscriptions

ottomaninscriptions-database-for-ottoman-inscriptions-osmanli-kitabeleri-projesiThe Database for Ottoman Inscriptions (DOI) is “a searchable digital database comprising information about, as well as transliterations and pictures of, all the Turkish, Arabic and Persian architectural inscriptions created in the Ottoman lands during Ottoman times. While tombstone inscriptions are not included in this database, the database does incorporate those inscription texts which were composed but for one reason or another were not actually carved onto a stone; and also, inscriptions that have not survived the passage of time, but which are available to us in the “chronogram” sections of poetry collections. Incorporating these chronograms will give researchers the opportunity to evaluate inscriptions which were otherwise long lost.

One of the main impetuses for this project was that we ourselves sadly witnessed the disappearance of many Ottoman inscriptions over the short period of a few decades in Turkey or elsewhere. The fact that a number of inscriptions were damaged, lost or stolen was highly alarming and encouraged us to undertake this immense project. Many colleagues warned us about the enormity of the material to be covered. However, the project editors believe that even if this project is not able to immediately achieve the goal of covering every single inscription, a database of Ottoman inscriptions is long due.

The starting point of the project is the systematic recording of the inscriptions of Istanbul. Bursa and Edirne. Still, since the editors have decided to begin by entering previously published data into the database, researchers may encounter entries on inscriptions from cities other than Istanbul as well. For our methodology in collecting the inscriptions, click here.

The Database of Ottoman Inscriptions (DOI) is searchable by the benefactor’s name, the location of the building containing the inscription, and the date of construction, as well the types of script or poem. As such, the database represents an enormous resource for researchers who are conducting studies in the fields of Ottoman history, art history, philology, prosopography, etc. The editors hope that this data will bring new and fresh approaches to the aforementioned fields. To read the instructions on how to use the database, please click here.

H. Aynur, K. Hayashi, H. Karateke (eds.), http://www.ottomaninscriptions.com/; accessed on 03.01.2017.

Digital Scriptorium

Digital Scriptorium (DS) is a partnership between approximately forty American Libraries, Museums, and Associations housing collections of manuscripts from the Middle-Ages and Renaissance. A list of participating institutions can be found here. Governance is ensured by an Executive Director, and a Board of Directors, and funding comes from membership dues.

Digital Scriptorum offers an online union catalog allowing the discovery of pre-modern resources scattered across the world. Thanks to a shared metadata schema, the catalogue allows the searching of all holdings. Both the basic search and the advanced search offer refining options in the left-hand-side menu such as Language or Location. Visitors will note that descriptive records include persistent URLs in order to encourage direct citation, and sometimes links to the websites and/or digital repositories of the materials’ home institutions.

Digital Scriptorum also offers a digital image repository making those pre-modern manuscripts openly accessible to scholars, students, booksellers, collectors, and the general public. Images can be used under certain restrictions which can be found on the Using the Images page.

The website is in English.