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.

Hikmat

Hikmat is an academic blog about “Texts, Translations, Thoughts, Philosophy, Literature, Shi’i Islam, Urdu, Persian, Iran, India” active since October 2007.

The owner of the blog, who calls himself Mulla Sadra, is a British historian of intellectual life with particular interests in philosophy and literature, in both the past and contemporary Muslim world.

Hikmat publishes primarily academic books and articles reviews. But the blog also includes some research notes, and basic bibliographies. As such, it is a valuable research tool, and will appeal to anyone working on Shi’i and Iranian studies.

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.

A user guide to the Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981

In 2017, the McGill Library acquired Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981, a database of Primary Source documents examining events such as the Arab-Israeli War, the Lebanese Civil War, and the Iranian Revolution. This collection of files from the United Kingdom Foreign Office (i.e. diplomatic correspondence, minutes, reports, political summaries and personality profiles) is a invaluable tool for researchers focusing on the history of the Middle East during the 1970s.

The Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 is available through the McGill Library A-Z database list.

It includes three modules focusing on different time periods:

  1. 1971-1974: the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the Oil crisis
  2. 975-1978: the Lebanese civil war and the Camp David accords
  3. 1979-1981: the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war

An essay introducing this historical period by Professor Michael Gasper, including links to relevant documents within the collection, can be read here.

The Popular Searches page shows a list of most important people, places and topics covered by the documents. A simple click on any name or topic will lead to a list of documents in which they appear.

The collection can also be discovered through the gallery of maps, linking back to the original documents from which they come.

Dreams of a Nation

Started in the 1990’s, Dreams of a Nation is a Columbia University based archival project aiming at preserving and promoting Palestinian cinema. If the initial collection was only composed of films screened in courses taught at Columbia on Middle Eastern cinema, it has now grown to include hundreds of films, carefully described and indexed on the Dreams of a Nation website. Dreams of a Nation archive and database in this website were sponsored by Columbia University Middle East Institute, and facilitated by dedicated librarians. The website is now maintained by the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University.

The DOAN archive can easily be explored by filmmakers or by titles indexed in alphabetical order.

Dreams of a Nation resulted in the organization of two Palestinian film festivals held in 2003 and 2204, and the publication of a book entitled Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema authored by Dr. Hamid Dabashi (Verso, 2006).

As described by Dr Hamid Dabashi, Dreams of a Nation is a work in progress “committed to two principle objectives:

  • expanding and preserving our archive with the goal of making it the largest collection of Palestinian cinema possible–feature, short, and documentary–and (2)
  • providing a solid database documenting Palestinian cinema for contemporary use and for the posterity.”

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.

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.

 

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.