The £8.7 million project was announced this morning at the British Library’s flagship building in St Pancras, London. Its plans will digitise more than 500,000 pages from the archives of the East India Company and India Office, in addition to 25,000 pages of medieval Arabic manuscripts – all of which will be made freely available online for the first time.
The digitisation will take place over the next three years at the British Library, in close cooperation with the new Qatar National Library, and much information will be available in both Arabic and English. Once live, the site will also offer users the opportunity to add their own Gulf-related stories and memories, enabling them to contribute to the online resource, whether by sharing images of mementoes and old photographs, or by recounting the stories their grandparents once told them. In this way, historical items from living memory will be added to the archive of items dating back several centuries.
The project also encompasses the digitisation of thousands of pages of medieval manuscripts that demonstrate the significant influence of Islamic scholars in the fields of science, medicine, mathematics and geometry. Together, these resources will illuminate centuries of fascinating Arab history and culture and massively boost understanding of the rapidly-changing Gulf region and its place on the world stage.
Qatar National Library, expected to open in 2014, will also offer an extensive collection of print and digital resources to residents across Qatar. Making material from cultures around the world available on the internet in multilingual format, the library is currently developing its capacity for the digital conversion of important documents.
Dr Claudia Lux, Qatar National Library Director, said: “There is no question that the India Office Records at the British Library holds one of the world’s foremost archives of material related to the Gulf region. Qatar National Library is very proud to work alongside the British Library in the development of the region’s first digitised local history archive.”
Digitization Projects: The British Library and Qatar Foundation to Digitise Half a Million Pages
Filed by July 18, 2012on