CEDEJ carto portal

Established in 1968, CEDEJ (Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques Juridiques et Sociales) is a French Research Institute whose main Branch is located in Cairo, Egypt. The core objective of CEDEJ is to facilitate and support multidisciplinary field research focusing on Egypt and surrounding countries like Sudan where a small Branch is located.

CEDEJ is home to an important collection of books (35,000 volumes), journals, newspapers, statistical data as well as maps and plans (over 5,000 items). Part of this collection came from the collection of Cairo French Law School (founded in 1891 and closed in 1956). Among the numerous resources available through CEDEJ, one will find thematic Press Reviews, a digital Press Archive and digital monographs collection -both in collaboration with Bibliotheca Alexandrina-, and a Census Portal (CAPMAS):

CEDEJ map library per se is quite unique: it holds “a multi-scalar collection of cadastral, topographic, and geographic maps covering all of Egypt” running from the end of the 19th century to the 1990s. In November 2021, CEDEJ launched an ergonomic, dynamic and interactive online catalog allowing users to access, extract, and explore textual and geo-referenced data: CEDEJ carto.

cedejcarto.org

We carry an open data policy in strict compliance with the legislation and in the spirit of Plan S, namely “that data should be as open as possible and as closed as necessary”.

https://scienceeurope.org

cedejcarto.org Portal offers to discover the collection via three different options:

  • The advanced search allowing to cross-search location, scale, series and date of publication
  • The search by index allowing to access maps/plans based on the series they pertain to (among the 71 existing series)
  • The search by location allowing to access maps/plans by a simple a click on a large map of Egypt.

Scholars should note that cedejcarto.org is not a database of scanned maps where they will find high resolution images available for download. This portal is a dynamic and interactive online catalogue that will help them identify maps and plans relevant to their research among the large collection of cartographic documents held by the CEDEJ library. Materials can then be requested by filing out the dedicated form and submitting to hala.bayoumi@cedej-eg.org & directioncedej@cedej-eg.org. For more information about usage permissions, people can visit the map library webpage.

cedejcarto.org interface is only available in English.

The Timbuktu Manuscripts

The Timbuktu Manuscripts: discover a trove of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts digital exhibition and collection is the result of a collaboration between a Malian association called SAVAMA-DCI whose main goal is to preserve and make widely available Arabic manuscripts from Timbuktu and Google Arts & Culture.

Back in 1973, a preservation campaign of the Timbuktu’s collection made of approximately 400,000 codices was initiated by the Ahmed Baba Center (CEDRAB). In 1996, the newly founded association SAVAMA-DCI started raising awareness among private owners about the value of their family manuscripts, providing technical and financial support for the processing and conservation of these materials, and encouraging them to keep the manuscripts in their possession. If funding was limited at first, the association was over time able to collect enough funds to ensure the preservation and inventory of the collections. In 2012, with the jihadist occupation of Northern Mali, the fear that manuscripts would be destroyed lead to the transfer of Timbuktu’s manuscripts collections to other towns in the region like Bamako. According to SAMAVA-DCI over 370.000 codices were rescued.

« Dans la nuit noire de notre existence, les manuscrits sont les projecteurs qui éclairent le passé. »

Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, fondateur de SAVAMA-DCI

The Timbuktu Manuscripts virtual exhibition is incredibly rich (more than 40.000 manuscripts from libraries and private collections) and provides many options to learn about the collections, their history, and the rescue and preservation processes.

The website includes:

  • shorts videos documenting the manuscripts’ preservation
  • pictures documenting the rescue operations, and the digitization of manuscripts
  • topical sub-collections of digitized manuscripts (astronomy, ethics, jurisprudence, mathematics, medicine, geography, etc.)
  • general information about the Arabic manuscripts tradition with a focus on the African tradition
  • detailed descriptions of the collections composing The Timbuktu Manuscripts collection
  • historical and literary information situating these manuscripts in the larger context of knowledge production and dissemination in Africa and beyond.

The most incredible experience offered via this virtual exhibition is the digital archives of the Timbuktu Manuscripts:

The main page gallery is staggering.

The archives includes more than 400,000 handwritten pages from the Qur’an, mathematical, astronomical and medical treatises, sex and black magic manuals, etc. dating from the 11th to the 20th century. A selection of manuscripts are accessible full-text from section 2. The Books. Section 3. Grid View allows to glance at individual pages displayed in a table view when section 4. A Universe of Verses gives access to individual pages in what appears like a much less organized display:

At the very bottom of the main page, The Timbuktu Manuscripts virtual exhibition links to other Google Arts & Culture projects to learn more about Malian music, modern art, architectural heritage, etc.

The Timbuktu Manuscripts website will default to the language of your Google Account. But the interface is accessible in any language available in Google (although some content may not translate).

And for those eager to learn more about the Timbuktu manuscripts, we suggest they go visit the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project website. This project focusing on the “content of the manuscripts, the circulation of scholars and ideas, the economy of the manuscript book, and other aspects of the “work of scholarship” in Timbuktu” was established in 2003 by an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and remains very active.

Qur’an Tools

Qur’an Tools [login page] is a free and open source software facilitating the critical study of the Qur’anic text. It was created and developed by Dr. R. Michael McCoy former Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Notre Dame and Dr. Andrew G. Bannister, Adjunct Research fellow at Melbourne School of Theology, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto.

In order to use Qur’an Tools, you will need to create an account (email/password). Once logged in, all functionalities become accessible: searching, browsing, text mining, grammatical analysis, cross-referencing, and so much more.

To get started, we suggest consulting the User Guide that provides an outline and explanations of the many features available.

From the homepage, you can already conduct a great variety of searches in Arabic, English transliteration or English. It is important to point that English translations used by Qur’an Tools are:

  • M. Pickthall’s The Meaning of the Glorious Koran: an Explanatory Translation published in 1930
  • A. Yusuf Ali’s The Holy Quran Translation released in 1937
  • A. J. Arberry’s The Koran Interpreted first published in 1955
  • M. H. Shakir’s The Holy Quran originally issued in 1968.

The ‘Roots’ window offers to add a specific word root to your search box, the ‘Verse Picker’ allows to access directly a particular verse, and the virtual keyboard enables to type either Arabic letters or transliterated characters.

Qur’an Tools is so rich in terms of options and functionalities, that it would impossible to provide a screenshot of every single result page that may display. However, we can highlight some commonalities accross results pages: the Arabic text always comes accompanied by its transliteration in Latin characters, and a translation; also, search terms are highlighted.

Reader Mode
Interlinear Mode
Parse Mode

More advanced features can be found at the top of the page:

Among those, we will only highlight the ‘Chart” functionality that provides visual representations of the textual analysis:

Last, from the Preferences and Account Settings page, users can customise display options such as the search result highlight colour, or the default English translation. And for more insight on how to use the software, a video tutorial is available. Students and scholars whose research involves textual analysis of the Qur’anic text will benefit greatly from this powerful tool.

Qur’an Tools is an open source project, released under the GNU General Public License with terms of use.

GSSneareast: “Network for Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Near East”

GSSneareast: Network for Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Near East is an online research and networking platform designed by and for scholars interested in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Near East. Its aim is to set the grounds for a collaborative, stimulating, and inter-disciplinary virtual environment dedicated to researchers and institutions engaged in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Middle East and beyond. The platform was softly launched in the Fall of 2021 and should be completed in the Fall of 2022.

GSSneareast was created and is maintained by Gülşah Şenkol, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Orient-Institut Istanbul, specializing in comparative women’s history in the Middle East. Dr. Şenkol graduated in History from Ohio State University in 2019, and held a number of visiting fellow positions at North-American, Turkish and Swedish Universities/Research Centers. Her research focuses on the history of feminist movements in the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“GSSneareast is grounded firmly in the idea that gender, and sexuality studies need[…] to be a collaborative endeavor, and that conversation[s] about our disciplines, approaches, and research will play a big role in moving scholarship forward.”

The platform was endorsed by numerous research institutions: the Queer and Feminist Studies Working Group at the European University Institute (EUI), Gesellschaft für Turkologie, Osmanistik und Türkeiforschung (GTOT), Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes (IFEA), Institute for Mediterranean StudiesFoundation for Research & Technology Hellas (IMS-FORTH), Kadir Has University Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center (KHAS GWSRC), Koç University, Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT), Rem-Em: Remembering and Coexisting in the Eastern Mediterranean Platform, Sabancı University Istanbul Policy Center (IPC-MERCATOR), the Association for Women’s and Gender Studies in Turkey (TOCIKAD), the History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı), the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation in Turkey (WLICF).

At the time of our visit, the GSSneareast platform highlighted various past and future projects such as:

According to Dr. Şenkol’s description of the project, the GSSneareast platform should eventually feature geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools to create an interactive database of scholars in the field, WGSS programs, departments, and research centers in the region and beyond, Libraries and archives holding relevant collections, not-for-profit organizations, research projects, and databases focusing on Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Near East. The platform should also make available practical information for young scholars in the field (“How to’s”), a podcast, and a discussion forum, and hold an annual colloquium and a biennial workshop to advance conversations on innovative approaches to the field.

To learn more about the GSSneareast platform and related projects, you may watch this short promotional video :

African Journals Online (AJOL)

African Journals Online (AJOL) is a not-for-profit organisation based in South Africa founded in May 1998 with the aim to promote online access to African-published peer-reviewed research. It was initially conceived and developed as a pilot project by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP), a Non Profit Organisation based in Oxford, UK. In August 2000, AJOL relaunched featuring 50 English language African ­published journals in agricultural sciences, science and technology, health and social sciences. In the following years, many titles from South Africa and Francophone Africa were added, and the database was redesigned and improved.

At the time of our visit, AJOL hosted 551 journals, of which 291 are full-text available (Open Access), and indexed millions of articles (with abstract when available) authored by scholars from 35 African countries.

Since 1998, AJOL has been working for African research to contribute to African development (…). AJOL main page, Dec. 6, 2021.

The Board overseeing AJOL is made of researchers, scholarly publishers and academic librarians. Apart from its founding collaboration with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP), African Journals Online is also supported by international organizations such as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Ford Foundation, World Wide Science Alliance (WWS Alliance), Hirani, Research for Health programme and the  Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative.

Journals considered for integration to African Journals Online are selected according to the criteria outlined below:

  1. “The journal must be scholarly in content, and contain original research (in addition to other content)
  2. The content is peer-reviewed and quality controlled
  3. The journal has an established publishing track record 
  4. The journal has an actively functioning Editorial Board (institutional affiliations and contact details required)
  5. The journal has a registered ISSN and eISSN
  6. The journal will provide all content for inclusion on AJOL (tables of contents, abstracts, and full text) in electronic format and in a timely manner. Partner journals are responsible for ensuring their content on AJOL is up to date.
  7. The journal guarantees all requisite permissions are granted to allow AJOL to operate an article download service
  8. The journal is published within the African continent (i.e. management of publishing strategy, business development and production operation are all run from an African country).”

AJOL journals’ collection can be browsed by category (disciplin), title (alphabetically), country of publication:

Open Access journals are tagged as such on the general titles‘ list, and also compiled in a Free-to-read titles’ list:

In addition, African Journals Online makes available guidelines for different professionals (researchers, librarians and authors) to best use the platform (see below) and links to numerous additional resources.

The website is available in English only.

Wikilala: an Ottoman digital library

Started in 2019, Wikilala is a digital library making available and full-text searchable documents printed between 1729, when Ibrahim Müteferriqa founded the first Turkish printing Press and the letter revolution in 1928. The project was launched by Hiperlink‘s (first Turkish digital library) project manager, Sadi Özgür, and an academic member at the History Department of Istanbul Aydın University that acted as a consultant, Harun Tuncer.

Wikilala aims “to enable researchers and enthusiasts studying in almost all branches of science, such as culture, art, history, literature, architecture etc. to rediscover even the smallest details in order to illuminate a landscape that has been dimly lighted for two centuries. (…) Wikilala allows (…) to access this huge storage of knowledge.”

“About” page, Wikilala (URL:https://www.wikilala.com/about)

According to the description on the “About” page, Wikilala includes thousands of books, magazines, journals, newspapers,etc. that have been digitized in high-resolution, catalogued, and OCR’ed (i.e. Optical Recognition Character) to allow for full-text searchability. The project also include the “latinization” of texts to allow people who don’t have command of Ottoman Turkish to search the texts in Latin script.

To access Wikilala materials, visitors need to create an account (which is free with an institutional email). Once logged-in, the entire library becomes available.

From the main page (captured above), users can search the library in Latin or Arabic scripts (thanks to a handy multilingual and multialphabets virtual keyboard), or pre-select the type of documents they want to search/read: Newspapers, Journals, Books, Manuscripts and Documents.

From the results page, users will be able to sort the list in the order they want (alphabetical, chronological, etc.) and/or refine the list using the filters available in the right-hand-side column.

There are two methods to open documents: clicking on the Read Now button at the bottom right of the item’s page, or scrolling down to the thumbnails view: both options will open Wikilala’s viewer. The viewer is limited to online reading and full-text search: unfortunately, it does not offer download, saving or printing options. Perhaps will this be a future development?

Wikilala is a platform developed by a private company named hiperkitap, that works on numerous other products individuals and institutions can subscribe to or purchase. McGill can trial it for free until the end of 2021: take advantage of it!

The interface is available in both Turkish and English.

Primary Source Database Trials (Fall 2021)

During the month of October (September 27th to October 27th), the Islamic Studies Library will be trialing several primary source (mainly newspapers and periodicals) databases that are of interest to anyone whose research focuses on Afghanistan, the Arab World in general and Egypt in particular, or Turkey. Please check below for content and access details.

  1. Afghan Central Press Digital Archive

The ‘Afghan Central Press’ collection brings together four national, Kabul-based publications of Afghanistan whose long runs and prominence provide a concentrated vantage point for understanding developments in Afghanistan for much of the twentieth century. The English-language Kabul Times is presented alongside Pushto publications Anis, Hewad, and Islah.Together, the archives of these newspapers provide a chronicle of events from the fall of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion, the rise of the Mujahedeen, the establishment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, invasion by the United States and the ensuing period of reconstruction from the view of the capital.

https://gpa.eastview.com/acp/

2. Al-Ahram Digital Archive

Founded in 1875, Al-Ahram (الأهرام‎, “The Pyramids”) is one of the longest-running newspapers in the Middle East. It has long been regarded as Egypt’s most authoritative and influential newspaper, and one of the most important newspapers in the Arab world, with a circulation of over 1 million. Prior to 1960, the newspaper was an independent publication and was renowned for its objectivity and independence. After being nationalized by President Nasser in 1960, Al-Ahram became the de facto voice of the Egyptian government and today the newspaper is managed by the Supreme Council of Press. Al-Ahram has featured writings by some of the most important political and literary voices of the day, including Nobel Literature Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, nationalist leaders Mustafa Kamil and Saad Zaghlul, as well as Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein, Yusuf Idris, Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi, and Anis Mansour.

The interface of ‘Al-Ahram’ is available in both English and Arabic.

https://gpa.eastview.com/alahram/

3. Cumhuriyet Digital Archive

Established in May 1924, ‘Cumhuriyet’ (“The Republic”) is the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper and is widely considered one of the last remaining opposition newspapers in Turkey. Founded by journalist Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Cumhuriyet was the first newspaper of the Turkish Republic and promoted a belief in democracy, secularism and the rule of law. According to the newspaper’s editorial principles: Cumhuriyet is an independent newspaper; it is the defender of nothing but the Republic, of democracy in the scientific and broad sense. It will fight every force that tries to overthrow the Republic and the notion and principles of democracy. It will endeavor for the embracing by society of the principle of secularism along the path of “Enlightenment” ushered in by Atatürk’s revolution and principles. Over the last 95 years, Cumhuriyet has stood witness to the changing landscape of Turkey’s political, social and economic environment. Despite the challenges of these times, the institution of Cumhuriyet has sustained its coverage of domestic and international news, providing critical documentation of Turkey’s dynamic history and its relations with the global community. In the twenty-first century, Cumhuriyet continues its dedication to the principles of democracy and secularism as embodied by Atatürk. The newspaper has a daily circulation of over 30,000 and receives roughly 25 million visitors to its website each month. It is one of the most influential newspapers in Turkey and is regarded by domestic and foreign readers as a reliable source for impartial, intelligent news reporting.

The interface of ‘Cumhuriyet Digital Archive’ is available in both English and Turkish.

https://gpa.eastview.com/cumhuriyet/

4. Kotobarabia Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers Collection

‘Kotobarabia: Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers’ is “a compendium of early works of an astounding variety of disciplines from important Arab writers, spanning fields from feminism and social theory, to classics of literature, history, and the sciences. Includes works by the Four Imams of the Sunni Sect, the Al Azhar Modern Sheikhs, various authors of the Modern Arab Enlightenment, and rare works by the former Egyptian royal family. Consisting mostly of historic texts, the books in this collection are full-image, with searchable metadata only.

https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/books/1710#/

The online reading interface is very similar for preriodicals and monographs. It allows to navigate easily within documents from the -left or right-hand side depending on the language of the interface- side menu. In addition, users will be able to read in full screen mode, select and copy a section to paste elsewehre, print, download as a PDF, email and cite. It is also possible to search for occurrences within publications: a virtual keyboard is available for those who don’t have non-roman scripts keyboards.

The trials started on Monday, September 27th, and will run until Wednesday, October 27th. These databases can be accessed either using the links provided in this blog post, or going to the A-Z database list (as shown below):

Please note access is based on IP addresses, and therefore limited to members of the McGill community. Also, note that activating the VPN may be required when/if you are off-campus. Check these databases out and let us know what you think!

A highlight of the Islamic Studies Library research guides

Seizing the opportunity of the start of this new academic year, I decided to highlight the Islamic Studies Library (ISL) research guides that library staff conscientiously developed over the past ten years, and keep updating regularly. But before diving into the details, let me start by defining what a research guide is: a research guide -also called ‘subject guide’- is a curated list of resources focusing on a specific topic, discipline, or field of study. The research guides include both resources owned by the McGill library available only to the McGill community, and Open Access resources that are freely accessible to anyone on the internet. Our guides were developed by library staff with the help of graduate students, course lecturers and faculty of the Institute of Islamic Studies.

  1. How to access the ISL research guides?
    There are two ways you can access our research guides. Either you go to the Islamic Studies Library main page and look for the ‘Key resources’ menu:

Or you go to the main library webpage and look for the ‘Humanities’ tab in the ‘Subject guides’ column:

2. Which disciplines or fields are covered?
Originally, we had only two guides, but over the years we added ten more in the aim to cover the broad range of topics and disciplines taught at the Institute of Islamic Studies. Currently, you will find the following guides:

3. How can research guides help me?
Research guides list and link to selected resources such as reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries), periodicals, monographs, primary sources (archives, government documents, photographs, maps, etc.), websites, databases, etc. In addition, our guides include a number of tools that will be useful to Islamic and Middle East studies scholars like date converters, virtual keyboards for Arabic Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Urdu, as well as romanization and transliteration tables for these languages in non-roman scripts. As such, these guides are excellent starting points to dive into a topic, and familiarize yourself with the McGill library collections.

4. Where to go beyond research guides?
Within each research guide, you can access the library online catalogue (Sofia) to search for more resources on your topic(s) of interest at McGill, in Québec, and worldwide. If you need help doing so, you are invited to contact your liaison librarian (me) either by email or phone (+1-514-449-1952), or to make an appointment for a consult using the scheduling tool accessible from the guides:

Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening

Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening is the research blog of Dr. David Vishanoff, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests lie in how individuals “understand religious others, and how they understand sacred texts—both their own and those of other religions.” Launched in 1997, when Dr Vishanoff was still a student, the blog is still active in 2021.

The blog is used as a platform for publishing some of his presentations , and publications. For presentations, Dr. Vishanoff generally gives access to his notes, PowerPoint Slides, and YouTube video link (when available). For publications, he provides -when copyright allows- access to PDF files. When copyright does not allow, he just links to the publisher’s website.

The blog also gives access to a number of courses syllabi that may be of interest to scholars looking for readings on particular topics:

If the Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening blog is very focused in terms of resources, it is a nice example of a dynamic, and user-friendly research blog, that could serve as a template for scholars interested in using blogging to promote their work.

bina : collections patrimoniales numérisées de la BULAC

bina is the digital collection of the Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations (BULAC), an academic library established in 2001 to centralize the “Oriental” collections of nine parisian academic and research libraries. The wide-range of geographical areas covered by BULAC go from the Balkans, to Oceania passing by the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Asia. BULAC’s mission revolves around three axis: gathering these “Oriental” collections in a single location, promoting and supporting open access, and facilitating worldwide scholars’ access to the materials.

The Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian collections of BULAC include 235,000 monographs and over 800 periodicals. In addition, the library owns approximately 4,000 “Oriental” manucripts and rare books dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The online cataloguing of these rare collections started in 2013 and the digitization in 2016. At the time of our visit (June 2021), 248 Ottoman Turkish, 150 Persian and 61 Arabic manuscripts and archival documents had been scanned and were available in bina.

The XML-EAD standard initally used to describe these rare materials was not fit to reflect the linguistic and paleographical variety of the collection and the multiple transliteration systems used to transcribe non-roman scripts. Therefore, BULAC worked in collaboration with the Agence bibliographique de l’enseignement supérieur (ABES) to develop bibliographic descriptions and authority records matching the codicological and onomastical specificities of these collections. Those interested in learning more about this cataloguing project can read the following articles (in French):

Navigating bina digital collections can be done in three different ways. The simple search available from the top-right corner of the page will search simultaneaously the title, author, date, description, format and subject fields. The advanced search available either by clicking on the “Rechercher” tab or opening the drop-down menu in the simple search will allow to target specific fields and cross-search them. The Index search allows to browse materials by author, language, type of document and call number.

The metadata is divided in four categories: Notice (bibliographic data), Matérialité (physical description), Contenu (content) and Conservation (location).

The online viewer allows to browse volumes, jump to a specific page, display a single page, double pages or a gallery. It is also possible to save pages either as image of PDF (one page at a time), share (with a permalink) or embed the image elsewhere. Unless otherwise stated, all materials are out of copyright and free of use. For more technical and legal information, you may visit this page.

bina interface is in French.