The Arabic Digital Library
Bibliotheca Alexandrina launched the largest Arabic Digital Library worldwide in April 2010; the Library now includes more than 176,750 fully searchable Arabic books online, thus representing the largest Arabic Digital Library on the Internet. Anyone can browse any of this large collection online on the digital archive http://dar.bibalex.org, created by the International School of Information Science (ISIS), a BA affiliated research institute, to hold this vast collection of books.
Emerging from the BA’s Digital Assets Repository system, the Arabic digital library was created for supporting the Arabic culture in the current digital era, as it faces up to the limited Arabic content on the Internet in comparison to other languages.
The collection is classified based on Dewey Decimal standard classification where the books cover various categories including Human Science, Natural Sciences, History, Arts, Technology and Applied Science, Religion, Literature, Generalities, etc. Thus, The Arabic digital library is considered an optimum tool for students, researchers, academics and the public in general.
In the latest version of DAR, ISIS exerted significant efforts to provide more advanced tools for browsing and viewing books for the user’s convenience. A number of implemented features were developed for this purpose which includes the following:
- Search and Browsing Features:
The books can be browsed from the homepage as “Most Viewed”, “Top Rated” or “Most Commented on”. Moreover, the collection can be further browsed and filtered using the “faceted browsing” technique which allows narrowing down the users’ choices according to their interest, as they may select books as per their categories, languages, contributor, etc. The search facility is another option for viewing books as per the users’ preference. Users may carry out global search for more general results, advanced search for more specific ones, in addition to searching within a book for a certain keyword or expression, where all search results are retrieved highlighted.
- Sharing and Annotation tools within the book viewer
In the new version of the Arabic Digital Library, readers can use a number of viewing features such as zooming in/out, viewing the book in full screen for more convenient reading, etc. Unregistered users may share, tag and embed the browsed books in social networks. On the other hand, registered users have more customizing options in using the Library. They may organize their selection of book in folders thus creating their own “Bookshelves” or “Favorites” list. Moreover, they have access to the annotation tools in the book viewer which allows highlighting or underlining certain spans of text within a book, as well as adding sticky notes with their personal comments. Registered users of the Library may further interact through commenting and rating books.
In respect to copyright policy, visitors can review the full searchable content of in-copyright books within the BA premises in respect to the number of physical copies available on the shelves, whereas in-copyrighted material offers only 5% of its searchable content outside the BA premises. On the other hand, out-of-copyright materials, which represent more than 17900 searchable Arabic books, are fully available without restrictions on and off the BA premises.
Print On Demand:
The BA is currently working on settling agreements with authors and publishers of the in-copyright books in order to avail them for printing through the Print on Demand facility. Future work in the Arabic Digital Library will entail allowing users to order online the desired book to be printed out using the Espresso Book Machine, where books will be delivered via express mail.
The Arabic Digital library started with a collection of 100,000 books and now we are close to doubling this number. ISIS team maintains the system and updates the book viewer and tools for granted user compliance.