AlKindi: is a union catalogue of written religious and cultural heritage of the Middle East, that combines in one catalogue the collections available in Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Institute of Arabic Manuscripts and Fscire Research Institute and Library on the History and Doctrines of Islam (Palermo).
Each of the three library holds rich collections of resources on Islamic topics, culture, heritage, authorities, and the intellectual work of prominent Islamic scholars.
The library of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies (IDEO, Cairo) focuses on the Arabic Islamic sources of the first millennium Hiǧrī. IDEO’s library houses 150,000 monographs and about 1,800 journals and periodicals covering various disciplines such as Arabic language, Quranic exegesis, theology, law and jurisprudence, history, philosophy, sufism, history of sciences.
The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts focuses on manuscripts in microfilm or in digital format and presents manuscripts in the field of classical Arab manuscript heritage.
The Fscire Research Institute and Library on the History and Doctrines of Islam (Palermo) focus is on exhibiting the linguistic, doctrinal, and cultural diversity of Islam.
Alkindi created a searchable index for accessing bibliographic information on various valuable resources available at the above-mentioned libraries. Thus, scholars and researchers can map various primary and secondary resources. Alkindi also “aims to describe the genealogy or literary descent of a medieval work through the links that the works foster between them.”
Alkindi has launched a new version that complies with the conceptual model proposed by the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) called FRBR. This new version provides 4 level of information for items and creates connection between different levels of information for items which provides users with a better search result.
On the search result page, bibliographic information is presented in the language of the source which can range from Arabic, English, French to Spanish and other languages. Moreover, the type of the material is specified whether it is series, early work or a monograph.
Open access Islamic-Iranian manuscripts database has been established with the aim of providing access to resources for researchers and scholars with the focus on the manuscripts of the Islamic world and Iran. This site, in order to promote the values of Iranian culture, with the help of group of dedicated partners tried to make available manuscripts and develop techniques of accessing the manuscripts of the Islamic world and Iran. And recently they have run their pilot version of their website.
It is possible to read manuscripts electronically and, on the web, as well as access other resources provided in this database such as books and articles related to the field of manuscripts.
This initiative consists of various departments such as cataloging, graphic editing, image development, public and international relations, and IT.
Development of their archive relies on collaboration of private collection owners, personal collections, national libraries, or other entities who are willing to share their manuscripts, books, or their resources with them to be digitized and to be made available for public use.
The image of manuscripts is accessible for everyone; however, the website interface is only available in Persian language. Each manuscript can be browsed, and bibliographic information is presented consisting of language of the item, subject and author. Also, when available more details about the manuscript is shared such as title, author or manuscript’s transcriber as well as where the item is kept, and it also indicates if the manuscript is not complete.
Iranologie.com is created by Khodadad Rezakhani, a scholar of late antiquity and the early medieval period, mostly in West and Central Asia. He created this site with a focus on Iranian history and is aiming to provide information about history and culture of Iran as well as about “Iran as a modern nation-state”.
The main feature of the website is “The History Page” which is the access point to the main content on the site about Iranian history categorized in three eras of: 1. From the Ancient Times to 650 CE, 2. From Islam to the Safavids, 3. From the Safavids to Modern Iran.
Khodadad Rezakhani, the creator of the site, has a PhD form UCLA in late antique Near East and he is a professional academic dedicated to teaching , researching and writing. He describes the reason for initiating this project as :
“However, I have a deep interest in bringing academic research to the public and find producing knowledge for purely academic audiences to be undemocratic and against the spirit of knowledge. As such, I try to engage in anyway I can, giving interviews to TV and Radio programmes and appearing on various segments dedicated to history. But more than anything, I try to use the internet, and have done so since 1996 (!) to engage, through my podcasts and my weblog, and make sure that what me and my colleagues are working on does not remain behind the locked doors of academic journals.”
Iranologie.com is host for the History of Iran podcast and history Podcast in Persian. Both podcasts cover Iranian history fro pre-Islamic to Islamic and modern ear, one in English and the latter in Persian language. Moreover, all sources and additional materials that were referenced in the podcasts can are listed on Podcast section of the site.
In addition to the History and two valuable podcasts, recently, the author of Iranologie.com also created a new project on Twitter, “@historianofIran, which is a rotating weekly account where different scholars of Iranian history, culture, and languages write about their work for a week at a time”.
last but not least, historical issues are discussed mostly by the author both in English and Persian in the form of a blog and can be accessed on Iranologie.com here.
Preservation and documentation of written Islamic Heritage was the initial goal of the Al-Furqan, but it has expanded beyond its initial aim and has three centers active in the field of Islamic studies. Also Al-Furqan has published many different publications in the field of Islamic manuscripts, one of which is “World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts” and is known as a pioneering work that catalogues manuscripts in various countries from all over the world.
Moreover, after completion of the above mentioned publication the digitized outcome of the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts is called ‘World Collections’ databank and can be accessed through Al-Furqan digital library at this address: https://digitallibrary.al-furqan.com/world_library.
The three centers of Al-Furqan, with their publication, research and academic activates, are contributing in various ways to the goal of the foundation, which is conservation, promotion and study of Islamic manuscripts, these three centers are:
“The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan was established in 1988, aiming to preserve and study the Islamic manuscripts, which constitute a particularly important part of Islamic heritage…..” “[….] The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan is committed to mobilising all available expertise to preserve these manuscripts and to restore their content to the cultural mainstream.”
“In 1991, the late Sheikh Hamad al-Jasser, a member of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, gave a keynote speech at the Foundation’s launch, in which he presented some of the most valuable manuscripts of Makkah and Madinah and urged the Foundation to undertake the task of producing an encyclopaedia of the two great cities.”
“The mission of the Centre is summarised in the revitalisation of the knowledge of al-maqasid (objectives, purposes), in order to develop the process of ijtihad (free reasoning) and the renewal of Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), its fundamental theory (usul), and Islamic thought in general. The Centre also aims to broaden the horizons of knowledge for students of Islamic studies everywhere.”
Another important part of Al-Furqan Foundation is its Digital library which was established in 2013 with the aim of advancing and supporting research as well as raising awareness regarding Islamic written heritage especially Islamic manuscripts. To this end, Al-Furqan Digital Library has a valuable and large collection of references as well as primary resources and presents an increasing repository of bibliographic information about manuscripts and manuscript collections worldwide.
This Digital library is user-friendly and interactive and is available in Arabic and English. It also has a very well-designed guide that walks users through various aspects of the library and show them how to use and access material.
Al-Furqan has many publications which can be browsed here, also it worth mentioning that Islamic Studies Library of McGill has many of its publication which can be searched and found in the library catalogue.
The Ottoman History Podcast began in 2011 and March 2021 marks its 10 years anniversary that this initiative is recording interviews with academics researching or studying the Ottoman Empire.
It started with the goal of experimenting new form of academic production by using more accessible media and a more collaborative approach. Now it is one of the largest developed digital resources about Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East in the form of academic discussion.
“Our recorded interviews and lectures, while still largely academic in tone, provide scholarly conversation accessible to a wider public audience.”
Chris Gratien, Producer and Co-Creator of the podcast in an interview with Bosphorus Review of Books, in response to the question of “What is The Ottoman History Podcast?” says:
“Ottoman History Podcast is an internet radio program focused on the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East, and Islamicate world. Since 2011, we’ve featured the work of over 300 contributors, mostly scholars and students of history and other academic disciplines. At any given time, we have more than a dozen team members equipped to record in different locations throughout the world. All of our interviews happen in person. And the project is completely independent and non-commercial. Over the years we’ve built quite a community that includes not only podcasters but also a few other web projects loosely-centered on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East”.
The Making of the Islamic World — conversations about the history of Muslim societies from the 7th to 17th centuries, and each episode offers suggestion for further listening and some primary and secondary reading.
Deporting Ottoman Americans : “How do you deport someone whose country no longer exists? This podcast addresses this question through the stories of Middle Eastern migrants subject to deportation from the United States during the 1930s”
The Yayla— is an internet radio program centered around various range of Turkey’s music. Each episode talks about a particular genre also covers a bit of cultural context.
Bibliographies — is a list of books and resources compiled by Heather Hughes the OHP librarian on select subject and time.
Chris Gratine in his above mentioned interview, for those who are new to this podcast, suggested to start with the episode called : Ottoman New York, where the forgotten shared history and connection between New York city and the Ottoman Empire is being discussed.
Mouse and Manuscript is a free online collection of codicology and paleography lessons in a form of an innovative online “textbook”. Mouse and Manuscript is created by researchers and librarians at Leiden University, using rich and outstanding collection of Oriental manuscripts at Leiden University.
According to Dictionary of English Manuscript terminology:
“‘Codicology’ denotes the study of manuscript books, or codices, in all aspects, including their physical structure, texts, script, binding, decoration, and other features of their production.” *
“’Paleography’ denotes the study of handwriting and of the history of scripts. It involves such practices as the analysis and description of old manuscripts, the deciphering of texts, the dating and identification of hands and scripts, and recognition of the place of origin of a manuscript and of the scribal practices and conventions represented in it.” **
These lessons are offered in an interactive fashion and the goal is to teach various aspects of codicology and paleography. Moreover, by analyzing historical traces in the digitized manuscripts used in this collection, these lessons are trying to show case methods of book making prior to printing press. So far 53 lessons are released and some of the titles are as follow:
The Manuscripts used in this online textbook are in Arabic, Persian, …. and from Middle East, East Asia, Africa and beyond.
Each lesson consists of several parts, such as an overview of the the manuscript, discussing the specification of the document, transcription and transliteration of the content, and more importantly, fully high resolution digitized manuscript, with the possibility of zooming and turning pages.
At the end of each lesson a list of more relevant readings and resources as are given well as some assignments/homework.
Dorrit van Dalen initiated Mouse and Manuscript, created and edited several lessons (2, 12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 51) and launched the website in 2020. All other contributor and creators of the lessons are linked to Leiden University through their researches, to learn more about individuals involve in this project click here.
McGill Islamic Studies Library also have various resources on Codicology and Paleography that can be searched and found via library catalogue . some of the titles are as follow:
Comparative oriental manuscript studies : an introduction, by Alessandro Bausi, Eugenia Sokolinski, Pier Giorgio Borbone 2015 , Link to the library here.
علم الاكتناه العربي الإسلامي = Arabic Islamic palaeography [sic] and codicologyʻIlm al-iktināh al-ʻArabī al-Islāmī = Arabic Islamic palaeography and codicology, by تصنيف قاسم السامرائي., سامرائي، قاسم . 2001. Link to the library here.
Writings and writing : investigations in Islamic text and script : in honour of Dr Januarius Justus Witkam, Professor of Codicology and Palaeography of the Islamic world at Leyden University, by Robert M Kerr 1968- (Editor), Thomas Milo (Editor), Jan Just Witkam 1945- (Honouree.) 2013. Link to the library here.
**Beal, P. (2008). palaeography. In A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450–2000. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2021, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199576128.001.0001/acref-9780199576128-e-0718
The Library of Congress houses, preserves, collects and makes accessible numerous valuable and historical materials from across the globe in different languages, forms and subjects, this includes a noteworthy collection of rare Persian language materials. This collection is part of the “African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division” and includes various rare materials of early print books, lithographic books and manuscripts.
According to the Library of Congress most materials in this collection was acquired in 1930s through a well-known dealer in fine Islamic and Near Eastern arts, Kirkor Minassian. This acquisition includes rare manuscripts and books in Arabic, Persian, Armenian and Turkish language, however the rare Persian language collection grew beyond Minassain acquisitions as the library continued to acquire more materials from other sources as well as to receive rare collections in a form of donation from generous people.
This collection consists of materials in different subject and disciplines from the entire Middle East. However, literary works and historical lithographs makes up for much of the collection.
“A number of these items are exquisitely illuminated anthologies of poetry by classic and lesser known poets, written in fine calligraphic styles, and illustrated with miniatures. Many also have beautiful bindings. A number of the illuminated books are multilingual works, which include Arabic and Turkish passages in addition to Persian, focusing on scientific, religious – philosophical and literary topics, and others are holy books important to all confessional traditions within the Islamic world.”
In 2014 in an exhibition, called “A Thousand Years of the Persian Book” that was held by The Library’s Near East Section, 40 items of rare Persian collection were shown to the public, this exhibition led to a digitization project in 2015. As a result of this ongoing project up until now 169 lithographs of the Collection are digitized and made available.
This beautifully organized collection can be accessed here. Each record provides access to a digitized format of the item as well as a description about the item such as a physical account, bibliographic information and when available summary of the content.
In addition to the abovementioned collection, Library of Congress also provided to a large collection of Arabic script calligraphy sheets from 9th to 19th century. 373 calligraphy sheets can be browsed online which mainly consist of fragments of Quran written on paper or parchment.
Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) of art and design’s collection contains over 2.3 million objects showcasing 5000 years of human art and creativity. The Museum’s collection consists of UK’s national as well as international collections. These collections contain wide range of resources for learning, research and study of various topics such as: architecture, book arts, sculpture, Asian art and design and etc.
Since the beginning of the V&A in 1850’s and when Queen Victoria laid the first stone of the Museum in 1899, Museum’s mission has been to provide tools and ways of learning and engaging with their collection. Moreover, building an excellent collection with global relevance and attracting international audiences and collections has always been part of their mission; therefore, V&A collected various outstanding resources and examples of human art and creativity from around the world.
In that regard, the V&A houses a great collection of Islamic art, which holds more than 19000 artifacts and items from early Islamic era to early twentieth century from Middle East and North Africa. This great collection usually can be visited in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, however, now that due to COVID-19 situation the Gallery is closed, the highlight of this collection is accessible digitally and can be found here.
This very well organized collection also provides exclusive information about the item’s history, place, date, material, techniques that were used in creation of the objects.
V&A Museum has a rich collection of South Asian artifacts which is described as: “The collections from South and South-East Asia comprise nearly 60,000 objects, including about 10,000 textiles and 6,000 paintings covering the Indian subcontinent south of the Himalayas, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The range of the collection is immense.”
Calligraphy as an astonishing form of Islamic Art also made its way to V&A collection and can be visited here, also at the end of the page a slideshow of different objects of the collection featuring beautiful work of calligraphy from different style, era and techniques.
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