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November 2009

November 2009

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November 2009

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  1. Digitizing the Historical Periodical Collection at Al-Aqsa Mosque Library in East Jerusalem November 2009 Qasem Abu Harb Director of Archive Centre Arab Studies Society; East Jerusalem Project Coordinator

  2. Introduction • Collection of historical Palestinian newspapers and periodicals at the Al-Aqsa Library in East Jerusalem • Provides a rich source of information about the history of the region and its people • Documents the development of the Arab Press in Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century • Digitization project • Aimed at preserving the historical periodical collection • Supported by a grant from the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) at the British Library

  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • Located in the Haram al-Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem • Established in 1923

  4. Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • Reference library • Serves the needs of researchers and students from Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities • Contains monograph, periodical, and manuscript collections • 2,000 manuscripts • 14,000 books including 2000 rare titles • 70 titles of Arabic language newspapers and journals

  5. Development of the Arab Press in Palestine • Palestinian press developed at the turn of the 20th century • Palestine under the Ottoman Empire • Palestinians began to establish their own printing presses • Impact of the Christian publishing houses • Pre-war period: 1908 -1914 • Establishment of three major Arabic language papers • Al-Quds (1908, Jerusalem) • Al-Karmil (1908,Haifa) • Filastine (1911, Jaffa) Title page of Filastine

  6. Arab Press in Palestine British Mandate Period • More diverse publishing landscape • Two leading pre-war papers reopen • Al-Karmil and Filastine • New Arab publications • Mirat Al-Sharq • Establishment of Muslim Arab papers • Al-Jami’ah Al-Arabiah (Jerusalem, 1927) • Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqim (Jaffa, 1925) • Relative freedom of press during the first decade of the British Mandate (1919-1929) Al-Jami’ah Al-Arabiah Organ of the Supreme Muslim Council

  7. Arab Press in Palestine British Mandate Period • The Buraq riots of 1929 • Violent confrontations between Arabs and Zionists • Role of the press in inciting the public • The new Publication Law of 1933 • Freedom of press restrictions • Increasingly nationalistic tone of Arabic language papers • New papers established in the 1930s • Al-Difa – “Defense” • Al-Jami’a Al-Islamiah –“Islamic Union” • Confiscation of many papers during the Arab rebellion of 1936-1939 • Closure of papers with the outbreak of WWII Al-Jami’a Al-Islamiah

  8. Collection at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • Collection of historical newspapers and periodicals at the Al-Aqsa Library • Arabic language papers published in Palestine and other Arab countries • One of the largest collections of Palestinian serial publications • 70 titles • Many rare copies unavailable at other institutions • Preservation and access challenges in managing the collection • Deteriorating paper copies • Environmental damage • Lack of preservation program • Limited access to the library Damaged page of Al-Difa Al-Zahra magazine

  9. Project Goals • Preservation • Lack of preservation program • Microfilm preservation strategies not available • Digitization as a means of creating digital surrogate copies of deteriorating newspapers for preservation purpose • Preservation as the project’s primary goal • Create digital archival copies • Safeguard the collection housed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library from the risk of physical deterioration and destruction • Access • Create multiple derivative copies • Enhance indexing and searchability by creating searchable text • Reduce handling of the fragile print materials

  10. Selection • 24 titles • 13 newspapers and 11 journals and magazines • 6699 issues • 53783pages • Dates: 1874-1951 • Example of a publication from the Ottoman Empire period • Al-Jinan (1874) • Magazines from the pre-war period • Al Hasna (1909-1912), • Al-Muqtabas (1908-1916) • Most of the publications from the British Mandate period Al-Jinan magazine published in Beirut in1874; distributed in Palestine

  11. Selection • Major newspapers active in the Arab nationalist movement during the British Mandate period • Filastine • Al-Jami’ah Al-Arabiah, • Al-Jami’a Al-Islamiah • Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqim • Al-Liwa' • Variety of magazines and journals • Al-Hasna– women’s literary and social magazine • Al-Zahra – literary magazine published in Jaffa • Al-Fajr - weekly cultural magazine • Al-Houkouk - monthly legal and scientific journal • Al-Kuliyya al-Arabia – educational journal published by Arab College of Jerusalem Al-Liwa' February 17, 1936 Organ of the Arab Party Cover page of Al-Fajr magazine, June 1, 1935

  12. Digitization Process • Original paper copies as a source for digital images during the digitization process • Image capture conducted in-house on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Library • Image capture equipment • ATIZ BOOK Drive system with two digital cameras • Each scanned page treated as a separate image and saved as an archival master in the TIFF format • Project guidelines based on digital library standards and best practices • Use-neutral approach with the notion of digital master files and derivatives

  13. Digitization Guidelines • The standards established for the digitization process: • Resolution: 300 dpi • File Format: TIFF (Tagged Image File Format ) • Compression: None • Bit-depth: 8-bit greyscale for black and white newspapers 24-bit RGB (Red-Green-Blue) for pages with colour images • Consistent file naming convention • File names consist of a project code (EAP119), unique newspaper code (three letters) followed by year (four digits), month (two digits), day (two digits), and page numbers (two or three digits starting with zero), for example: EAP119_arb19330414_01 for the first page of the issue of Al-Arab published on April 14, 1933

  14. Archival Master Files • Images created as a direct result of the image capture process • Preservation-quality digital copies • Minimum image processing • Saved as uncompressed TIFF files • A source for creating multiple derivative copies • Two copies of each digital master in the TIFF format • The first set of archival TIFF files stored at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • The second set deposited at the British Library according to the Endangered Archives Programme requirements • Extensive documentation for preservation purpose

  15. Derivative Files • Images created from archival master files for access • Available for in-house reading and printing • PDF (Portable Document Format) format • Digital surrogates of original publications • Unavailable online at this point • Creating derivative files • Readiris Pro 11 Middle East edition software • Capable of recognizing Arabic language characters • Performs OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and converts images into searchable files • Creates derivative files in the PDF format • Limitations of the software • Low OCR accuracy

  16. Preservation and Documentation • Preservation • Digital archival files for preservation purpose • Derivative files aid preservation by reducing the handling of paper copies • Documentation • Extensive documentation for preservation purpose • Recorded on multiple levels • Project – EAP 119 Preservation of historical periodical collection (1874-1951) at the al-Aqsa Mosque Library in East Jerusalem • Institution – The Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • Collection – The Newspaper and Periodical Collection and the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library • Individual publications – title in Latin and Arabic, dates and frequency of publication, format, and publishing history • Publishers • Deposited at the British Library

  17. Challenges • Image capture • Large newspaper format • Poor quality of print originals • Torn and smudged pages • Irregular fonts • Newspaper layout • Poor quality of OCR for the Arabic language • Lack of infrastructure for online delivery • Budget shortfalls

  18. Questions? Qasem Abu Harb Director of Archive Centre Arab Studies Society , East Jerusalem Project Coordinator at the Al-Aqsa Library