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Boutros Boutros Ghali Special Collection

A special collection related to Boutros Boutros Ghali is digitized but not published yet. The collection includes various documents related to the positions occupied by Boutros Ghali as:

1. The Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 1977 till early 1991. This group includes important documents pertaining to Egyptian foreign affairs, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Camp David accords and Egypt’s role in the African and Arab region.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1992 to December 1996. The BA has obtained the documents of his Excellency’s meeting notes for the years 1993, 1994, and 1996.

A great effort was exerted in order to categorize the documents based on their type, their language, and, finally, their contents. So far the following categories have been established: Correspondences, meeting reports, press, reports, videos, speeches, conversations, and agreements. The collection contains documents in numerous languages, including Arabic, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Indian. The contents of the documents have also been classified under different subjects.

Progress so far
Subsequent to His Excellency’s visit to the BA in 2008 and his over viewing the preliminary formats of the digital archive encompassing the documents that HE has previously provided to the BA, he has graciously provided the BA with more material consisting of 60 photo albums and 29 videos to be added to the prototype digital archive.

So far the archive contains the following:

  • 528 Reports
  • 4,701 Meetings
  • 66 Agreements
  • 103 Conversations
  • 60 Albums (containing 2,561photos)
  • 44 Speeches
  • 413 Correspondences
  • 1,780 Press items
  • 29 Videos
  • 25 Other items

In order to achieve this classification, an indexing application was developed, working as the backend that helps to reorder the scanned documents, assemble related pages, assign each group to its category, and finally insert the metadata(date, title...etc). The backend application is built on Java 5 and Mysql5.0 as a database server. The application uses web services to communicate with ‘Sakhr SDK’ in order to reduce indexing time by OCRing portions of scanned documents containing the metadata and save them automatically to the database, hence reducing the time needed to insert the data manually.

A publishing tool was developed for the release of the collection. The tool is designed to help the users in browsing the documents of the collection. The features included in the site reflect the structure of the classification of collection, which in turn help the users in retrieving the documents easily and in sending complex search requests by simple clicks. The publishing tool is built on “Ruby on Rails” technology and connects to the same database of the indexing application to keep the data consistent.

Challenges Encountered
When designing Boutros Boutros Ghali digital archive, some challenges were encountered which are featured in the following:

  • Applying morphological search using the three languages making up most of the documents in the archive (English, Arabic and French), where the search is applied on the metadata and content of the documents highlighting the searched keywords in the retrieved results.
  • Applying Browsing by Facets technique, which was a new trend by the time of developing the prototype of Boutros Boutros Ghali digital archive, where the indexing design was firmly assessed for the sake of yielding a high performance Browsing by Facets technique. ISIS has mastered this feature in Boutros Boutros Ghali digital archive and consequently excelled afterwards in applying it in Memory of Modern Egypt archive.

    Last updated on 29 Mar 2010