|Weekly News Digest
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The British Library and the Qatar Foundation Digitize Collections
The British Library (BL) announced that it recently signed a 3-year digitization project with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to preserve a collection of treasured content. The £8.7 million (about $13.5 million) project will convert maps, photographs, manuscripts, and letters into freely available digital formats in English and Arabic to trace the history of Great Britain’s involvement in the Middle East.
The India Office Records will provide the project’s content: more than 500,000 pages from the East India Company’s archives and 25,000 pages of medieval Arabic manuscripts on the topics of science, medicine, mathematics, and geometry, which date from the mid-18th century to about 1947. Also included will be previously classified documents such as reports and gazetteers (geographic information).
“The India Office Records held by the British Library are an extraordinarily rich source of historical material … absolutely anyone with an online connection will be able to have access to this unique treasure trove of material, illuminating subjects as diverse as tribal and global politics, international commerce and family history,” according to Lynne Brindley, The British Library’s chief executive.
The Qatar National Library, which will be open to the public in 2014, is preparing for its role in digitizing and translating its own documents, and Claudia Lux, library director, reports that this project marks the Gulf region’s “first digitised local history archive.”
Once the project is complete, website users can search the digital repository using names, places, and keywords, and upload their own Middle East–related stories and photographs so that centuries-old content will be added alongside living history.
Source: The British Library
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