Under the guidance of the principal investigator, Sarah Bowen Savant -cultural historian of the Middle East and Iran between 600-1500 A.D. and professor at AKU-ISMC- and the Advisory Board composed of eight international leading scholars in the fields of Islamic, Persian and Arabic studies, KITAB team of twenty-one scholars and computing specialists and five partners work relentlessly to develop new capabilities (i.e visualization tools, Optical Recognition Character, etc.)
The searching tool developed by KITAB team is able to detect proper names occurrences within a large corpus uncovering the complex relationships between medieval Arab authors and how ideas and knowledge circulated throughout the Arab World across time. The most recent developments have focused on the gathering of statistics on the reuse of ideas across the tradition including “the extent and precision of reuse.”
Anyone can use KITAB corpus and searching tool. The Our Pilot page provides a brief overview of the data and tools created by KITAB. One of the goals of the project is to “bring all of [their] data and sources into the public domain and with the field to take best advantage of what digital technology now allows […] to see and to discover.”
One of the main roles of today’s academic libraries, besides acquisition and classification of information materials, is facilitate access and -when necessary- provide guidance and training on how to access resources and information through a wide-range of digital tools and services or online platforms.
It may appear that technological development and digital tools have broadened our access to information, but sometimes we need guidance on how to use these tools to be able to benefit most from them. In order to avoid any unnecessary complication in accessing resources, libraries usually help users by creating step-by-step guides on how to use these tools. In the event of the COVID-19 pandemic, most library services moved online, and so did library guides and tutorials. Over the Summer, the Islamic studies library team produced video tutorials on how to use three important library tools and services: the Hathi Trust Emergency temporary access (ETAS), the McGill Virtual Private Network (VPN), and Islamic Studies library Subject Guides.
In this blog post, we will briefly introduce these tutorials.
“Hathi Trust digital library is a partnership of academic and research libraries offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.” However, In response to this pandemic, this platform provided a new service in order to provide support for research, teaching and learning during the time of interrupted library services. As such, Hathi Trust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) provide access to digital material that corresponds to physical material that is held by the libraries. So for McGill library material over two million books from library’s print collection made available online, which counts for over half of McGill’s print collection. This temporary service is only available to McGill students, staff and faculty.
To learn how you can benefit the most from this service, and some tips on how to access the digital books, please watch the video:
McGill Virtual Private Network or VPN is one of the services/methods that provides students, faculty and staff with remote access to Library e-materials. For example, they can access e-books, or e-journals, etc., while they are not on Campus.
Please note that only some of the Library’s e-resources requires VPN connection to grant you access, the rest of e-resources will simply ask you to login with you McGill credential and then you will have access to that e-material.
Whether you chose to or you were required to use VPN to access library’s e-resources, you need to install and configure VPN on your computer/device and set it up. In this video, we will show you how to do this, and where to find the help that might need.
In doing research we need various range of resources tailored to our very specific topic, more over we need different types of resources from primary resources to online or open access materials and print resources.
Videos credits: Islamic Studies Library team : Anaïs Salamon, Head Librarian; Dr. Charles D. Fletcher, Head Library Clerk; Samah Kasha Senior Library Assistance and Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian Senior Library Assistance
Directed by Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, Professor of Middle East History at Daemen College in Amherst, New York, and Dr. Marie LaBrosse, an independent writer, translator and poet, who both used to work at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Kashkul also includes six scholars focusing on the numerous projects. In 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, the collective welcomed two artists-in-residence: Kurdish painter and sculptor Ismail Khayat and Mexican poet David Shook.
Crux “aims to understand how devotion becomes violent and how violent devotion can become peaceful.” Crux relies on case studies of specific areas and creates “in-depth profiles of Islamic thought leaders who are influential within these communities.”
Talabani Tekiye studies the theology and religious practice of the Talabani Tekiye and Mosque of Kirkuk, a bastion of liberal Islam, “and how, over generations, people have maintained their openness.”
Mosul Lives is meant to provide “a picture of daily life in Mosul, before the Islamic State, and the American presence of 2003.” This projects is based on extensive interviews.
Handmade “documents traditional crafts and practices in Iraq and its Kurdish regions and the stories of those who continue them, preserving the cultural heritage of daily life.”
Film, Music and Art Archives aims at collecting and preserving “contemporary culture in Iraq and its Kurdish regions.” The database features a personal library for each artist including scans of their works, translation, subtitles, etc.
Arrival‘s goal is the publication of an anthology of Kurdish poetry in translation. Currently, the project focuses on selecting, translating, analyzing and comparing “critical literary contributions from every century of Kurdish poetry.”
The Abu Ghraib Collection includes “letters, objects, and books made by a political prisoner in Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein” showing “how prisoners maintained hope, connection and the ability to express their ideas.”
The Referendum collection focuses on “how people and their political parties campaigned, expressed opinions, and voted.”
The Stone Man was a collaboration between artist-in-residence Ismail Khayat and student artists that resulted in a retrospective of Khayat’s work as well as a sculpture garden (The Stone Garden) located on the AUIS campus.
Kashkulistan is a manuscripts, and artifacts collecting, cataloguing and digitization project lead in collaboration with regional archives, collectors and scholars.
If you want to learn more about Kashkul and be informed of their activities, you may follow them on Instagram: @kash_kul
Ten years ago, the first items from the Islamic Studies Library (ISL) collection located in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) were digitized. Over the years, the Islamic Studies Library and Digital Initiatives (DI) have developed a strong link, and the history of this decade-long collaboration is worth sharing with our community. This continuous teamwork resulted in launching multiple digital exhibitions, an Internet Archive ISL Collection and various research projects.
Digital Exhibitions and Collections
The first collaboration, Beautiful calligraphy ensures entrance to Paradise, started with a physical display in the Islamic Studies Library from November 1st, 2010 to March 31st 2011. The Calligraphy panels came from McGill University’s Rare Books and Special Collections and the Islamic Studies Library holdings located in RBSC. The physical exhibition included sixteen items representing various styles of Arabic calligraphy: from dry black and white calligraphy of the 10th century to colorful illuminated pieces of the 19th century, all of which recounted a brief history of Arabic/Islamic calligraphy. The Digital Exhibit: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/islamic_calligraphy/index.php.
The second collaboration, The Shahnameh by Ferdowsi, also started as a physical display in the Islamic Studies Library, from April 1st to October 31st, 2011. Here again, the physical exhibition included sixteen Shahnameh folios coming from McGill University’s Rare Books and Special Collections and the Islamic Studies Library holdings located in RBSC. Shahnameh by Ferdowsi offered the visitor an opportunity to experience some of the heroes and villains of this remarkable epic poem and to gather a diverse overview of this celebrated text as well as the magnificence of Persian painting. The Digital Exhibit: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/shahnameh/index.php.
The third collaboration, Arabic Lithographed Books, drew upon selections from Arabic lithographed books. The collection was on display in the Islamic Studies Library between February 1st and September 30th 2014, and later formed the basis for the Islamic Lithographs digital collection. Since then, the digitization of Islamic lithographs at McGill has become a work in progress, and the resulting digital collection a continually updated resource. This Collection includes many examples of lithographed books in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Urdu, dated from the eighteenth century until the mid-twentieth century showcasing different calligraphic styles, graphic designs, and publishing houses from the Muslim world and Europe. Items from the Islamic Lithographs digital collection were the first to be uploaded to the Islamic Studies Library Internet Archives collection. The Digital Exhibit: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/islamic_lithographs/.
Exhibits photo credit: Klaus Fiedler
Since 2014, an increasing number of digitized materials from the ISL’s various collections have become accessible on Internet Archive, a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more. Digital Initiatives uploads digitized materials twice a year. This unique collaboration began with 395 items and today includes digital copies of well over 1279 Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Urdu manuscripts, lithographs and rare books from the ISL collection. The materials can be viewed and browsed using the Internet Archive book reader, or downloaded in PDF format. The RSS feed feature of the Internet Archive website offers the opportunity to stay informed of new additions to our collection. Internet Archives Islamic Studies Collection : https://archive.org/details/mcgilluniversityislamicstudies
On demand digitization
Among the first to use this service were two faculty members from the Institute of Islamic studies; Professors F. Jamil Ragep and Robert Wisnovsky selected around 30 manuscripts from the ISL collection and the Osler Library of the History of Medicine collection to be digitized for a joint research project. (Rational Science in Islamic (RASI) project: https://islamsci.mcgill.ca/RASI/). In general, items for personal or scholarly use can be submitted for approval to be digitized by consulting McGill University’s on demand digitization service. Digitized items become available online in full in accordance with Canadian Copyright Law.
Behind the scenes: Digitization at the Library (Video)
A short video created in December 2019 highlights the meticulous work that takes place at Digitization and Digital Initiatives. The Library’s digitization service captures and provides access to millions of pages and objects from the vast and varied collections of McGill Libraries. This service is now even more important and essential during this unprecedented period of remote instruction and library online services.
Blog post editors: Anaïs Salamon, Head Librarian, Dr. Charles Fletcher, Head Library Clerk, and Greg Houston, Digital Initiatives
SANA is an online database that provides access to digitized periodicals published in Iran from the Qajar era- that marks the beginning of publishing newspapers, up until now.
This platform has been very recently made available publicly by National library and Archives of Iran, in accordance with free access to information and in order to provide equal access to information and knowledge for all. Also to facilitate access to valuable resources available at the National library for scholars and researches.
This platform includes lists and full text digitized periodicals, newspapers and Iranian journals from the beginning up until now in various topics such as Iran’s historical, social, political and economical situation, Persian literature, Islamic related topics; as well as publication about Tehran, Isfahan and other cities.
SANA also includes few periodicals in other languages such as German, English, French and some of them dates back to 1906. Such as :
In this database resources are organized chronologically and then under each era periodicals are listed alphabetically. Also when available, description or information about the history of the publication has been given.
Here is the list of four different time categories of publication accessible through this platform:
Launched in 2016 by Nafisa Bakkar, a 27th years-old entrepreneur based in London, U.K., Amaliah is an online media-platform aiming to serve as an amplifier for Muslim women’s voices. Rich of contributions from over 300 women living all around the World, Amaliah allows for different feminine experiences within Muslim communities to be made pubic and widely accessible. Amaliah is committed to inclusion trying to take a broad-range of perspectives into consideration when addressing issues.
Over the years, Amaliah and its founder received a lot of attention from main-stream media: they were featured in Forbes, The Telegraph, CNN, and The Guardian -to name only a few- increasing the platform’s visibility and leading to a digital footprint of over 3.2 million every month.
The platform categorizes its multimedia content (text, video & audio) in seven main categories:
Identity relays stories of personal journeys to becoming a woman
Relationships is interested in romantic relationships, family relationships, and the relationship individuals have with themselves
Soul focuses on the spiritual side of things (tips, advice, and experiences helping to nourish and boost one’s faith or comfort one’s heart
Fashion shares fashion and inspiration from bloggers
The Afternoon Map is a cartography blog brought to you by Ottoman History Podcast
“We firmly believe that every book needs more maps, and would be delighted if these maps could be useful toward that end”
The Afternoon Map
The blog is dedicated to presenting quality Ottoman/Turkish/Middle Eastern/Balkan maps with a maximum pixel-to-word ratio. A range of original, visually appealing and intellectually engaging maps harvested from archives and libraries around the world.
The afternoon Map will appeal to history buffs, travelers and map enthusiasts. Each map is provided with some background and analysis when available. Historians and other researchers will find these maps useful for their work.
“The Afternoon Map is a member of MENAlab, a constellation of independent internet destinations focused on the history, society, and culture of the Middle East and North Africa”
The Afternoon Map
The blog uses content generated by scholars and researchers from a variety of disciplines. The afternoon Map is open access and free from advertisement.
Under Afternoon Map’s Comprehensive Map List, one can find the following:
Blog posts in this section varies in topics (geographical, touristic, ethnic, etc.), in dates (as old as 1874) and in length (from one map to 14 maps)
Home Made Maps
In this section, things get really interesting! Treasure map, food maps, Folk song map, etc.
Topics in this section, not necessary related to maps, but it is worthwhile exploring!
A list of published articles authored and/or co-authored by Nick Danforth on various media platforms and academic journals. There is a couple of articles that are marked unpublished.
Provide a link to Ottoman History Podcast, a podcast about the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East, and the Islamic world.
In this section, blog posts are randomly displayed. This may appeal to those who like the surprise factor.
“Stories From The Middle East And North Africa, And The Spaces In Between”
Kerning Cultures is a female-led podcast founded in 2015 and is based in UAE. It is the first venture-funded podcast company in the Middle East. This podcast is Hebah Fisher’s idea; she is the co-founder of Kerning Cultures. This podcast formed in response to the lack of mainstream media in the Middle East, that young generation can relate to, also it came to existence aiming to open a new window to this misunderstood parts of the world.
This podcast started as a start-up and with very little help, the first three years Hebah Fisher (co-founder and CEO) and Razan Alzayani (co-founder and former executive producer) of the project, invested all their savings in this project, they worked for their” mission of telling stories of places they call home”. They aim to re-introduce the region to themselves and Middle Eastern audiences, as well as to introduce it to non-Middle Eastern listeners through their stories, stories that anyone even from very far away can relate to. So This podcast is being produced in Arabic and English.
Usually the image of the Middle East, pictured by the main stream media is biased, one-sided and heavily politicized.
This podcast tries give an image of Middle East and North Africa, beyond the stereotypical characteristic and common generalizations, by covering different topics and telling stories of history, science, culture, current affairs from these regions and Middle East. Each episode somehow unveils the reality of life in the region and aims to give a balanced picture of its people, and their nuanced lived experience.
Various topics are covered in this podcast. for example “Birthplace of the UAE” is about Public Health; “Fight or Flight” tells the story of a kite maker from Afghanistan who immigrated to the US and “Reviving Hamra Street” is about Beirut and its street art.
Or in the episode, “Not Just My Hijab” a two-part series, women with different backgrounds talk about their stories and experiences of wearing Hijab or, discontinuing wearing Hijab and what it means to them. This narrates the lived experience of those women with their voices, which is different from the narrative of an article in a prestigious International journal picturing women wearing Hijab and mostly in relation to religious matter. There are many factors that impact and form people’s lives, belief system, culture and collective memories , though usually these factors are excluded from media narrative, Kerning Cultures is trying to shed light on those factors and various dimension of life in the Middle East.
In addition to its valuable content, Kerning Cultures choice of media, podcast and use of voice, makes a meaningful connection to the region through the old tradition of oral history and story telling.
Kerning Cultures was described by its listener from different corner of the world as: informative, touching, intriguing and a must listen.
Over time, ArabLit became a good source of daily news and views on Arab and Arabic literature and translation. As described in an interview by Claire Jacobson (for Asymptot): “her [Qualey’s] coverage leaves no stone unturned, spanning a wide range of genres (from poetry to nonfiction, magical realism to science fiction) and countries (from Morocco to Iraq, Sudan to Syria).”
In 2017, ArabLit won the prestigious Literary Translation Initiative Award at the London Book Fair, and M. Lynx Qualey launched the BULAQ Podcastin collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, from The Arabist. BULAQ focuses on contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa, and on literature (what does it do? Why does it matter? How does it relates to society, history and politics?). BULAQ is co-produced by Sowt, a podcasting platform producing and distributing high-quality audio programs in Arabic based in Amman (Jordan) and launched in 2016.
In 2018, with support from fans and readers (53,208 followers in July 2020), Qualey was able to develop ArabLit by launching new initiatives:
the ArabLit Story Prize is awarded every year to the best short stories recently translated from Arabic to English by non-previously published translators
ArabKidLitNow! provides a “fresh view on contemporary Arabic children’s literature, in Arabic and in translation” is addressed to publishers, translators, readers of Arabic, Arabic language learners, readers of English, teachers, librarians, booksellers, etc.
ArabLit Quarterly is a theme-based “magazine that brings together Arabic literature, essays, wordplay, art, music, and food in translation”
The project compiles all the material pertaining to the late President Anwar El-Sadat in a digital archive documenting an important epoch in the discourse of Egyptian history.
The Archive provides information on the life of late President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat to historians, politicians, and researchers who are interested in analyzing and studying one of the most important transitional periods in Egyptian history.
The Archive is divided into three main areas and each area is further subdivided
In this section, one can explore facts and archival materials related to the early life of El-Sadat, his political life, after 23 July Revolution, his presidency, donated collections and his famous quotes. An internal link is made available to El-Sadat’s Museum that is housed in Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
In addition to the above, El-Sadat’s life includes books and articles that he wrote during the revolution and after he became a president.
This section is divided into six collections:
The speech collection contains 1116 letters, words and text statements by President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat.
The photo collection and for the first time, this number of rare El-Sadat related are displayed on the Internet, close to 20,000 photos
The video collection contains more than 317 videos, in which President El-Sadat appears, ranging from talk shows, news reports and documentaries.
The documents collection includes more than 970 Egyptian and American documents, some of which are rare documents in addition to documents in the President’s handwriting.
The audio collection is compilation of audios by President El-Sadat. This collection contains 44 audio tracks.
The press collection contains 7814 press items, ranging from news, reportage and articles that goes back to the period of the late President El-Sadat
Televised interviews, this section is devoted to all television interviews and letters available of President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat in an attempt to highlight how he dealt with the Arab and Western media and how he approached and handled its challenges.
The project team has collected most of the book covers that talked about the era of President Anwar El-Sadat as an assistant to the researcher to reach a better understanding of El- Sadat’s story in both its human and political aspects.
Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive materials were compiled from different sources, such as news agencies, museums, various other institutions, and a collection graciously granted by the late President’s family. The database was published on the Internet with tools and features that facilitate easy navigation through the website. It is important to note that the archive is available only in Arabic.
The digital archive also enables users and researchers to perform comprehensive searches among the different sections and categories of data.