Over the next three years, The National Library of Israel is making more than 2,500 rare Islamic manuscripts from its Islam and Middle East Collection freely available online.

These manuscripts span the ninth through 20th centuries.  The texts feature items from royal Mamluk, Mughal and Ottoman libraries. Also, the online portal will offer item descriptions in English, Hebrew and Arabic. In addition, high-resolution manuscript scans accompanied by additional tools and content will round out the offering.  Experts will inspect each text ahead of scanning.  This allows preservation and conservation measures as necessary. The portal will make use of the library collection very user friendly.

One item of note includes Persian scholar, mystic and poet Jāmī’s penned poetry collection Tuhfat al-Ahrar. Tuhfat al-Ahrar which translates to “Gift of the Free” or “Gift to the Noble” was written in 1481. It is also, beautifully illuminated with 17th and 18th century opening and closing pages.

Earlier Project

Last November, the National Library of Israel announced its partnership with Google to digitize 120,000 out-of-copyright Jewish texts. Around half of the books are written in Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino. The rest are in Latin, English, German, French, Arabic and Russian. The process is expected to take two years.

As curator Raquel Ukeles notes the projects will help the library engage audiences unable to see its rare manuscripts in person. Scholars will be able to inspect manuscripts as they never have before. For more

Our thanks to member Edward Bomsey for sharing this article.

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