Israel’s National Library sees a traffic boom on its Arabic site

The National Library of Israel says the number of visitors to its Arabic website has more than doubled in the year 2021, thanks to the digitization of its Arabic manuscripts and archives and an extensive outreach program in recent years.

JERUSALEM — The National Library of Israel says the number of visitors to its Arabic website more than doubled in the past year, thanks to a growing collection of digitized materials and an aggressive outreach campaign in the Arab world.

About 650,000 users, mostly from the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Algeria, visited the English and Arabic sites of the National Library of Israel in 2021, the spokesperson said. the library, Zack Rothbart.

One of the most visited resources on the Arabic website is a newspaper archive with more than 200,000 pages of Arabic publications from Ottoman and British Mandated Palestine, said Raquel Ukeles, the library’s collections manager.

“We’ve been working on outreach to the Arab world, to the Arabic-speaking audience here in Israel for over a decade, and we’ve slowly built up a rich set of resources on our websites,” she said. They include the digital archives of newspapers. , manuscripts, posters, e-books and music, she said. They are open access, allowing scholars and curious web browsers to visit.

The Jerusalem Library houses an extensive collection of Islamic and Arabic texts, including thousands of rare books and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Turkish ranging from the 9th to the 20th centuries.

“We are in the midst of a project to digitize our entire collection, to digitize all of our Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts,” said Samuel Thrope, curator of the library’s Islam and Middle East collection. “Ninety-five percent of it has already been completed.”

Among the crown jewels of the collection are a ninth-century Quran from modern Iran with the earliest known example of Persian written in Arabic script; an illuminated manuscript from 17th century India with illustrations from the life of Alexander the Great; and a 16th-century Ottoman Turkish text on ophthalmology.