In line with the Qatar National Library’s (QNL) mission to spread knowledge and preserve the nation’s heritage for the future generations, QNL has built fully equipped facilities with the proper infrastructure that can take on any kind of digitization project to provide quality digitization and plan for access, research, and preservation.
QNL’s digitization center aims to make the unique items of its Heritage Library available for all through the online digital portal, Qatar Digital Library. Digitized materials include rare books, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and more.
A major strategic objective of Qatar National Library (QNL) is to digitally preserve rare and invaluable Arab and Islamic heritage materials to increase Arabic content online in alignment with both the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Qatar National Development Strategy (2011-2016), which work for the long term preservation of Qatar's culture.
To achieve this objective, QNL setup a state of the art digitization center to digitize content of all formats that are related to the Arab and Islamic heritage and make them available to everyone around the world free of charge as per international preservation Guidelines/Standards for long-term preservation. Being the National Digitization Centre, QNL is following the Qatar’s Media, Culture and Heritage National Digitization Plan developed by the former Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
The Digitization Center at Qatar National Library has defined the following objectives for digitizing the Heritage Library's collections:
- Increase access to the 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-born content
- Protect original materials by reducing frequent handling during reference use, and Maintain long-term preservation of Qatar’s culture and heritage
The Digitization Center is designed in compliance with the International Digitization, Imaging and Graphic Processing Standards concerning temperature, lighting, vibration, humidity, alignment, spacing, and others technical requirements for graphics and digitization environments.
Best practices followed by the Center include:
- 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
- FADGI – Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials
- FADGI – Audio-Visual Working Group
The 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 (OCR) technologies that enrich the digitized images by adding a content-search feature and allow the user to discover beyond the scanned images. Using Image on Text technique, the user will be able to access the highest possible image resolution and to search text inside it.
- Cutting-edge imaging and lighting equipment for 3D imaging, allowing researchers to view objects in minute detail.
In addition to the digitization of QNL’s Heritage Library collections, the Digitization Center provides custom digitization projects for governmental institutions, private entities, and the local community. The center offers the ability to digitize books, magazines, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, documents, artifacts (3D photography), photography collections (slides, negatives, and glass plates), and audiovisual collections.
The following services are available at the Digitization Center:
Bulk Digitization, Large Format Scanning, and Image Stitching
Digitization of massive collections, including documents in large formats.
Evaluation of original materials, and the application of suitable image-capturing techniques.
On-site digitization of rare and fragile materials, using a Traveler Copy Stand and special handler with integrated book cradle and lighting.
Digital Image Enhancement
Improvement of the quality of digital images to meet QNL’s digitization standard requirements for image enhancement.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Optical Character Recognition for historical and modern texts in Arabic and Latin collections, which enables full content search by users. OCR is the process of converting the bitmap of a scanned page containing text-to-text codes (ASCII) in order to create a searchable digital book. QNL reaches 99 percent accuracy for Arabic content and applies text enhancement and font classification.
3D photography in the digitization studio, providing a rich experience to viewers by delivering a high standard of virtual object viewing.
QF/CMU Digitization Project
Qatar Foundation initiated and completed a pilot digitization project with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar from August 2008 to July 2009 to digitize rare items in the Heritage Library. The project digitized over one million pages of books, manuscripts, newspapers, magazines, and maps about Qatar and the Arab and Islamic region.
QNL's Heritage Library Collections
QNL’s Heritage Library Collections contain many remarkable items in various formats including manuscripts, rare books, periodicals, journals, magazines, newspapers, photographs, posters, maps, globes, a selection of early photography, and instruments and tools related to travel. The Heritage Library has an ongoing project to digitize all the materials not protected by copyright, and publish on the QNL website. The Center has so far digitized nearly two million pages from the Heritage Library Collections.
Al-Shaqab Horses Collection
QNL received a large collection of Arabian horse-related imagery that originated with Mrs. Judith Forbis, owner of the Ansata Arabian Stud Farm in Arkansas, USA. The collection consists of photographs compiled in albums and in plastic folders, as well as a collection of negatives, totaling nearly 40,000 items.
Museum of Islamic Art Library Collection
QNL has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) to collaborate on various initiatives, including a project that involves the digitizing of 55 items from among the rarest books and manuscripts at the museum.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
QNL has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Museum to collaborate in various aspects, including a pilot project to digitize a number of the museum’s manuscripts.
The Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic Language
QNL 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
QNL is collaborating with Qatar Music Academy to archive folk musical instruments.
Ottoman Archive Project
QNL 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
QNL has acquired 914 photographs that were taken by Vincent Aitzegagh as part of a French archeological expedition to Qatar in 1985. The mission was undertaken by French archeologist Claire Hardy-Guilbert, architect Vincent Defert and professional photographer Vincent Aitzegagh. Resulting from a cooperation between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the mission was appointed to produce a comprehensive record of traditional nineteenth-century architecture including houses, mosques, warehouses, and forts.
The QNL Digital Repository is a homogenous ecosystem that acts as the home of all digitized and digital material produced by QNL 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 the content
- User abstracted layout, equipping the end user with all the tools required to utilize and access the 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 for the user.
Materials including ancient manuscripts and maps, original copies of Arabian Nights, newspapers, modern website archives, and research datasets are all one click away at http://ediscovery.qnl.qa