Qatar National Library is taking a leading role in preserving the culture and history of Qatar, the Gulf, and the Arab and Islamic worlds. To fulfill this important mission, our facilities are equipped with the resources, technology and infrastructure to provide quality digitization of heritage items, preserving them and making them accessible to researchers for generations to come.
Our goal is to digitize the rare books, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and other historical items in the Heritage Library and make them freely available to anyone, anywhere. In particular, our efforts are aimed at digitally preserving rare and valuable Arab and Islamic heritage materials to increase Arabic content.
The Digitization Center’s objectives for digitizing Heritage Library items are to:
- Increase access to the Heritage Library’s collections, including unique and rare materials that meet research and educational needs
- Provide access to materials that can no longer be accessed due to format obsolescence
- Encourage the creation of Arabic digital content
- Protect original materials by reducing frequent handling during reference use, and maintain long-term preservation of Qatar’s culture and heritage
Global Best Practices
The Digitization Center is designed in compliance with the International Digitization, Imaging and Graphic Processing Standards concerning temperature, lighting, vibration, humidity, alignment, spacing and other technical requirements for graphics and digitization environments.
As Qatar’s National Digitization Center, we follow Qatar’s Media, Culture and Heritage National Digitization Plan, developed by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, as well as international preservation guidelines and standards. These include:
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) guidelines for digitization projects
- Metamorfoze Preservation Imaging Guidelines
- ISO-3664 – viewing conditions for graphics technology and photography
- ISO-12646 – graphic technology, displays for color proofing, characteristics and viewing conditions
- Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials
- FADGI Audio-Visual Working Group
The Digitization Center is also equipped with cutting-edge technology and software, including:
- ICC color-managed workflow to ensure color accuracy
- Lab and studio facilities with high-end digitization, scanning and photography equipment
- Advanced image enhancement software tools
- Text recognition for both Arabic and Latin text using optical character recognition technologies that enrich the digitized images by adding a content-search feature
- Image-on-text techniques to enable users to access the highest possible image resolution and search the text within it
- Cutting-edge imaging and lighting equipment for 3D imaging, allowing researchers to view objects in minute detail
The Digitization Center provides custom digitization projects for government institutions, private citizens, museums and international cultural institutions. The Center has a variety of scanners and software packages that enable the digitization of books, manuscripts, magazines, newspapers, maps, artifacts (using 3D photography), photographs (slides, negatives and glass plates) and audiovisual collections.
The services available at the Digitization Center include:
Bulk digitization, large-format scanning and image stitching: The Center’s resources enable the digitization of massive collections, including documents in large formats.
Digitization assessment: The Center’s staff evaluate original materials and advise which image-capturing techniques would be most suitable.
On-site digitization: The Library’s on-site digitization of rare and fragile materials uses a Traveller’s Conservation Copy Stand and special handler with integrated book cradle and lighting.
Digital image enhancement: Improving the quality of digital images helps to meet the Library’s digitization standard requirements for image enhancement.
Optical character recognition (OCR): OCR is the process of converting the image of a scanned page in order to create a searchable digital book. The Library offers OCR for historical and modern texts in its Arabic and Latin collections, with up to 99 per cent accuracy for Arabic content.
3D photography: 3D photography in the Digitization Center allows the Library to provide a rich experience to users by delivering a high standard of virtual object viewing.
Long-term preservation: Long-term preservation with rigorous standards built on tools to preserve and sustain digital file formats ensures the availability of information for future generations.
QF/CMU-Q Digitization Project
Qatar Foundation completed a pilot digitization project with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar in July 2009 to digitize rare items in the Heritage Library. The project digitized more than one million pages of books, manuscripts, newspapers, magazines and maps relating to Qatar and the Arab and Islamic worlds.
Heritage Library Collections
The Heritage Library's ongoing project will digitize and publish online all materials not protected by copyright, including manuscripts, rare books, periodicals, journals, magazines, newspapers, photographs, posters, maps, globes, a selection of early photography, and instruments and tools related to travel. So far, the Digitization Center has digitized nearly two million pages from the Heritage Library collections.
Al-Shaqab Horses Collection
The Library received a large collection of Arabian horse-related imagery that originated with Judith Forbis, owner of the Ansata Arabian Stud farm in Arkansas, USA. The collection consists of nearly 40,000 photographs and negatives.
Museum of Islamic Art Library Collection
The Library signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Museum of Islamic Art to collaborate on various initiatives, including a project to digitize 55 of the rarest books and manuscripts at the museum.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
The Library signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Museum to collaborate on various initiatives, including a pilot project to digitize a number of the museum’s manuscripts.
The Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic Language
The Library signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic project, which includes a digitization project focused on providing support in the area of optical recognition of Arabic characters. This will help researchers working on the etymology and meaning of Arabic words.
Qatar Music Academy
The Library is collaborating with Qatar Music Academy to archive folk musical instruments.
Ottoman Archive Project
The Library acquired heritage documents related to the Gulf region from the Ottoman Archive. These documents have been processed, translated and cataloged, to be made available on the Library’s online platforms.
Qatar Traditional Architecture Photographic Collection
The Library has acquired 914 photographs that were taken by professional photographer Vincent Aitzegagh as part of a French archeological expedition to Qatar in 1985 undertaken by Aitzegagh, French archeologist Claire Hardy-Guilbert and architect Vincent Defert. The mission, resulting from a cooperation between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was appointed to produce a comprehensive record of traditional 19th century architecture, including houses, mosques, warehouses and forts.
QNL Digital Repository
The Digital Repository is a homogenous ecosystem that acts as the home of all digitized and digital material produced by the Library and its partners. Its infrastructure is designed to conform to the OAIS Reference Model and targets three major functions:
- Long-term preservation environment, independent of media type and storage medium
- One-stop platform to integrate, link and enrich content
- User abstracted layout, equipping the end user with all the tools required to access and use saved information
The Digital Repository offers millions of pages and items that are available to check, read, share, annotate, download and print. The repository presents each object with descriptive, technical and textual information that is easy to retrieve by the user.
Materials, including ancient manuscripts and maps, original copies of the Arabian Nights, newspapers, modern website archives and research datasets, are all one click away at http://ediscovery.qnl.qa.
For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].