Online access to library collection on Islamic civilization supported by UNESCO

UNESCO’s Cairo Office launched a project aimed to assist the biggest specialized library in Cairo to develop a renewed online public access to its collection, which contains 155,000 volumes in the fields of Arab, Egyptian and Islamic heritage. This unique and globally well-known collection is part of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (IDEO).

During the last few years, IDEO has developed its own cataloguing software, AlKindi v.4. “Today, thanks to the UNESCO support, IDEO is proud to be among the first libraries in the world to present its catalogue online, according to the new standards,” says Rémi Chéno, a researcher at IDEO. The current catalog (v.3) on Internet receives an average of 2,800 visits per day, while about 73,800 pages are requested.

The aim of the UNESCO project is to provide a new access to the catalog, according to a contextualized, historical and critical approach of the Arabic-Islamic heritage. Already recognized as a valuable academic reference in the world research about Islam, the catalog will be accessible in a new way so as to display the historical and editorial context of each document in answering user queries. As before, the database will remain a free tool dedicated to the researchers all over the world.

The project is currently in its fourth step, where a module available on the Internet is being developed for any researcher who could enrich the catalog by data of contextualization.

This cultural mapping will help students, scholars and researchers around the world to get a more accurate understanding as well as wider access to this great collection of human thought. By strengthening scientific research of the Arabic-Islamic heritage the project will contribute to a collaboration of the different cultural worlds.