The Qatar Foundation Qatar National Library partnership with the British Library began in 2012, with a kick-off project digitizing a half million pages of archival material about Arab, and particularly Gulf Arab, history. The partnership occupies a large part of the sixth floor at the British Library’s St Pancras site, and includes a wide array of curators, conservators, Arabists and digitization specialists, all collaborating with one main goal: to expand access to their collections for a number of global audiences.

The British Library Qatar Foundation partnership is making available an eclectic combination of medieval texts about science and medicine along with documents from the India Office concerning the Gulf region. Included are manuscripts, personal and official archives, photographs, maps and even recordings of traditional music.

At the end of the first three-year project, the partnership will deliver a portal for use of the collections under a Creative Commons license, along with interfaces and documentation in both English and Arabic. The bilingual nature of the deliverables is a crucial point, seeking both to enrich the amount of high-quality, Arabic-language digital material on the Internet and to facilitate use of the collections by Arabic-speaking audiences. The first phase also marks an important step in international cooperation for exploring digital cultural heritage management for the growing Qatar National Library.

Samples of the diverse materials digitized can be found on the press release page for the project. The British Library Qatar Foundation partnership tweets as @BLQatar.


Selected by: David J. Wrisley

Text by: David J. Wrisley