As children, our schools would sometimes bring us on field trips to have out of class learning experiences. Such places would include the Zoo, the planetarium, a museum, or even a library. Many of us always cheered when it was the Zoo. However boring it may be, libraries and museums are a great resource for information and materials. These can span over a thousand years into our past. As a result, they need to be preserved in appropriate conditions which may impact the likeliness of the public having access to it. Now, the National Library of Israel is working towards digitising over 2,500 rare Islamic manuscripts.
The National Library of Israel goes Digital
The National Library of Israel is hoping to make more than 2,500 rare manuscripts more accessible to the public. As such, they will be digitising said manuscripts from the Islam and Middle East Collection which will be available for free online.
Digitisation of these manuscripts will take approximately three years to complete. Additionally, it will be done with the support of the Arcadia Fund. The process will include inspection of each text before scanning and undertaking necessary steps to preserve and conserve the material.
As a result, the texts will be available for access through an online portal. Here, viewers will find descriptions of items in English, Hebrew, as well as Arabic. The high-resolution manuscript scans will also come with additional tools and content.
Moving on, these manuscripts feature loads of history from the ninth century all the way up to the 20th century. In fact, some items include a copy of Tuhfat al-Ahrar, which means Gift of the Free or Gift of the Noble.
This collection of poetry is from Persian scholar and poet Jāmī who penned it in 1481. Furthermore, Jāmī is viewed as Iran’s last great mystical poet with his scholarly work and prose that discuss the Quran, philosophy, and Sufi doctrine.
How Libraries Preserve and Conserve Rare Texts
Firstly, a library must determine what the material is truly rare and valuable because a lot of money and care is invested into preserving it. Some factors that are taken into consideration include scarcity, condition, association, and age.
It is important to preserve and care for the texts in order to prevent any aging, deterioration, and mildew growth. Most professional settings will include climate-controlled storage rooms to provide the best protection.
The temperatures are usually kept between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius with humidity levels at a constant 30% – 50%. Moreover, the rooms are usually dimly lit and does not receive any sunlight. This is because UV rays are harmful to these texts.
Next, vintage materials are rarely handled to avoid unnecessary exposure to oils or other natural elements. As such, dust is usually present and can provide any obstacle. Because of this, regular dusting is also necessary to preserve rare materials.