More additions to Qatar Digital Library are on the cards, Qatar National Library’s Board of Trustees chair HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani announced yesterday.
She was speaking at a reception at the British Library in London last night to mark the fourth anniversary of the Qatar Digital Library (www.qdl.qa), which has content in both Arabic and English.
The website is the result of a partnership between Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Qatar National Library, and the British Library to digitise historical collections relating to Gulf history and Arabic scientific manuscripts.
“The third phase of our partnership with the British Library, which begins next year, will add almost 1mn further pages to the Qatar Digital Library, while material from partners in Turkey, France, the Netherlands, India, and the UK will also significantly expand its collection,” HE Sheikha Hind said. “This will strengthen cultural, intellectual, and scientific bridges between the Arab and Islamic world, and the rest of the world,” she said.
Recollecting her student days in London HE Sheikha Hind said: “While studying for a Master’s degree at University College London, I came to the British Library often – not only to carry out research for my thesis, but because it was my favourite place in London. I could feel the hand of history, and the soul of heritage. Being here tonight brings back the rush of excitement I always felt when the desk light flashed to tell me my book was ready for collection.”
“The British Library enabled me to add to the image of my nation’s history that I held in my mind, not just from documents relating to my own ancestors, but also from accounts by others who were in Qatar at pivotal times in its history – British diplomats, for example, sending their reports back home. I discovered how they saw my country. I could almost travel into their thoughts. And I learned that a story has many different faces. Without libraries, I may never have made a discovery that I will always be grateful for,” explained HE Sheikha Hind.
“But the biggest reason why this library means so much to me is because it taught me something I will always remember. We learn about our nation’s history through our families, friends, and teachers. They give a picture its colour. But they cannot always give us the elements that complete the picture – the facts, the figures, and the different perspectives from which it was viewed,” she highlighted.
“In the four years since the Qatar Digital Library was launched through a partnership between Qatar Foundation and the British Library, we have already seen how this important resource, managed by Qatar National Library, has added value to the world’s historians and researchers, as a unified platform for collections of material that aid scholars of Qatar and the Gulf, medieval Arab science and medicine, and other spheres of study. My mother, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, envisaged this partnership as a way of allowing people to look at history through fresh eyes. The Qatar Digital Library is an embodiment of that vision,” she said.
According to HE Sheikha Hind, everyone in the world can now access more than 1.5mn digitised pages, for free, through Qatar Digital Library, bringing the Arab and Islamic cultural and intellectual legacy to the forefront of people’s studies and understanding.
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