Gale Launches First Major Online Archive of pre-20th Century Arabic Books
Opens Up Access to Rare and Precious Materials for Scholars Around the World
Denver, November 23, 2015 — Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, today announced the first module of Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, the first major text-searchable online archive of pre-20th century Arabic printed books. Module One, which includes a wealth of content on Islamic literature, law and other religious items, is part of Gale’s ongoing Arabic digitization program offering the world’s most important Arabic collections to researchers, instructors and students.
The announcement was made at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual conference.
“Gale’s Arabic program is unprecedented in scale and scope. It will enrich our cultural understanding of the Middle East and its historical relationship with the West, as well as preserve the written heritage of the Arabic world for generations to come,” said Seth Cayley, Director of Research Publishing, Gale International.
“The Early Arabic Printed Books collection from the British Library covers almost all subjects, including history, science and literature over 400 years, enabling researchers to track the development of the Middle East’s literary and intellectual heritage over time. As stated in our Living Knowledge vision published at the beginning of 2015, the British Library is committed to making intellectual heritage accessible, and we’re delighted that this collaboration with Gale will enable researchers to study this rich archive online for the first time,” said Catherine Eagleton, Head of Asian and African Collections at the British Library.
Based on the catalogue edited by A.G. Ellis from 1894, Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library consists of texts in Arabic script as well as translations into European and Asian languages. The collection demonstrates Europe’s fascination with, and study and assimilation of ideas and knowledge from the Arabic-speaking world. Module One includes many editions of the Qur’an (Koran) with translations and commentaries, as well as Islamic laws, statutes, fatwas and rulings. Two additional modules on sciences, history, geography, and literature, language and periodicals will be released in 2016.
“Digitizing an entire collection allows scholars to dig deeper into Arabic primary sources that enhance insight into the intellectual creativity, the production of knowledge and the confluence of technologies and ideas of dynamic cultures from Europe to China in multiple languages. The resource offers scholars a tremendous opportunity to engage in new and creative ways, to build upon our understanding and to help chart a new direction of scholarship,” said Sean Swanick, the Islamic Studies Liaison Librarian at McGill University in Canada, and an advisory board member for Gale’s Arabic digitization program.
With Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, scholars can full-text search material in Arabic, English, French, German, Latin, Italian, Dutch and Spanish, and discover through granular metadata and facsimile images content in Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Syriac and 17 other languages. Interfaces in Arabic and European languages, right-to-left-read navigation of Arabic texts, an embedded Arabic keyboard and newly developed optical character recognition software for early Arabic printed script ensure scholars in Arabic-speaking countries and beyond can research the extensive range of texts.
For more information Gale’s Arabic digitization program please visit gale.cengage.co.uk/arabic or stop by the Gale booth (#60-61) for a product demonstration at the MESA annual meeting in Denver, Nov. 21- 24. Gale will also hold an informational lunch session on Monday, Nov. 23 from 12-1pm for MESA delegates and media.
To attend the lunch or speak with a Gale leader about this program and the company’s global product development strategy, please contact Kristina Massari at [email protected].
About Cengage Learning and Gale
Cengage Learning is a leading educational content, technology, and services company for the higher education and K-12, professional and library markets worldwide. Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, is a global provider of research resources for libraries and businesses for more than 60 years. Gale is passionate about supporting the continued innovation and evolution of libraries by providing the content, tools, and services libraries need to promote information discovery, enable learning, and support economic, cultural, and intellectual growth in their communities. For more information, visit www.cengage.com or www.gale.cengage.com.
About The British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website – http://www.bl.uk/- every year where they can view up to 4 million digitized collection items and over 40 million pages.