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Digitization of Arabic-Language Books

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina will organize this event from 21-25 February 2006 in cooperation with Stanford University Library and Yale University, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to foster the development of an international cooperative effort for digitization of Arabic-language books.

There is no question that digitization of the world’s literatures is one of the transformative ideas of our time. However, it is evident that large scale endeavors in that effort have many political, economic, legal and operational dimensions, and that they will be uneven in execution. As organizers of this effort, we hope to assure that the Arabic literatures will be made much more broadly and easily available, in effect complementing what Google intends for Roman-alphabet (especially English and Western European language) literatures. Our hope is to develop over time a virtual library of Arabic materials available including hundreds of thousands of texts and the means of finding them – and grow from there.

There will be a public discussion of this subject with leaders of Arabic librarianship and digitization experts from Egypt, the wider Middle East, the U.K. and the U.S.A. The members of the planning group will include people from the BA, Stanford, Yale University, the British Library, Oxford University, and others.

In conjuction with the planning sessions, there will be a one-and-a–half-day invitational conference for representatives of appropriate institutions, intended to introduce, explain, and seek strategic input for our intention of establishing a permanent digital core of Arabic books for both academic and popular use.

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