January 27, 2022

Digitization Projects: British Library Partnering with National Library of Singapore to Digitise Malay Manuscripts

From the BL:

Today (19 August) at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) 2013 meeting, Roly Keating the British Library’s Chief Executive signed an agreement with Mrs Elaine Ng the Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore to put an extensive range of materials of interest to Singapore online.

The project will digitise the British Library’s collection of Malay manuscripts, together with early maps of Singapore and archival material relating to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles – the British official responsible for the founding of the city of Singapore.

The project is possible thanks to a kind donation of £125,000 from William and Judith Bollinger which will fund the digitisation work for 5 years and is part of an on-going project between the British Library and the National Library Board of Singapore. The first stage of the project, now underway, will digitise over 100 Malay manuscripts and letters from seventeenth to nineteenth century resulting in over 16,000 high resolution images.

Collection highlights include:

  • A sumptuously illuminated manuscript of an ethical guide for rulers, ‘The Crown of Kings’, Taj al-Salatin, copied in Penang in 1824
  • The announcement of the British capture of the island of Java from the Dutch in August 1811, signed by Thomas Stamford Raffles
  • An illuminated royal Malay letter written in gold ink in Singapore in 1857 from the ruler of Johor, Temenggung Ibrahim, to Emperor Napoleon III of France
  • A manuscript of the most famous Malay historical chronicle, the ‘Malay Annals’, Sejarah Melayu, copied in Melaka in 1873

These rare materials are being digitised in the British Library and will be available on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts online, as well as the National Library Board of Singapore BookSG website. To date these items could only be viewed by visiting the British Library’s reading rooms at St Pancras.

Direct to Malay Manuscripts (via Singapore BookSG Web Site)

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.