Web Portal of Libraries of the Orient

icon-calendar 2017 ‒ 2020

bnfThe National Library of France (BnF), as part of its international programs of shared digitalization, launched their project of a new digital web portal named “Libraries of the Orient” for the preservation, digitalization, dissemination, and enhancement of the heritage of Francophone libraries in the Mediterranean Orient.

IDEO’s library  was selected to participate in this web portal, which has been available for use on Gallica since September 12, 2017.

The corpus of works covers the countries bordering the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea: Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. Moreover, it centers around major periods linked to the history of the region: oriental archaeology, oriental churches, the Ottoman Empire, Franco-Arabic relations from Napoleon I to the Second World War/ the question of the East.

The volume, as an initial phase, is estimated to be comprised of 5,000 documents for the public domain, of which 2,500 are from the BnF and 2,500 from its partners. They include printed works, manuscripts, maps and plans, photographs, posters, images and, in the future, sound and audiovisual documents.

Partners of the web portal of Libraries in the Levant

The participation of IDEO’s library

IDEO’s specialized collection of works concerns the Arabic-Muslim heritage of the first ten centuries of the Hijra. Priority is thus given to editions of texts by Arab-Muslim authors. Section  icon-tags 9 of the library focuses on a general spectrum of Arabic-Muslim culture. It includes not only works on religious sciences, but also secular literature or of the history of sciences. IDEO’s library has 11,510 works whose publication date is between 1800 and 1945.

Among the 1,404 periodicals that the IDEO’s library houses today, 964 are in European languages and 440 are in Arabic. Only 286 are still in publication, of which 171 are in European languages and 115 are in Arabic. The library contains 87 titles of Arabic periodicals published between 1800 and 1945.

Works on Arabic literature, Sufism and history will make up most of what IDEO’s Library will provide for the web portal.

Cairo International Book Fair 2017

The 48th edition of Cairo International Book Fair has just finished. This is a key moment for the life of the library and its acquisition of monographs and journals.

This year the book fair kept us busy for 10 days, between January 26 and February 8, 2017. Our team included René-Vincent du Grandlaunay and Ahmad Chleilat (monographs acquisition), Magdi Azab and Emilio Platti (journals acquisition), Amir Samir (invoicing), Imad Jamil and Ayman Hezekiel (handling).

We visited all the exhibitors but only bought  from 152 of them. In all, we purchased 723 monograph titles (= 1130 volumes) and completed 50 journal titles (including 9 new ones).

As we expected, after the floating of the Egyptian pound last November, the price of foreign books almost doubled compared to last year. The price of the books published in Egypt, however, did not substantially increase.

As comparison, in 2016, we purchased 677 titles (= 979 volumes) for EGP 81,230. In 2017, the bill for the 723 titles reached EGP 174,298.

It is too early to tell the distribution of the monographs according to their topic. But it seems that the number of editiones principes is not insignificant this year, which is a good news.

René-Vincent Guérin du Grandlaunay, O.P.

RVGLRené-Vincent Guérin du Grandlaunay is French and lives in Paris. He was director of IDEO’s library until 2021.

After his studies in philosophy and theology in Lille and at Strasbourg University, he spent two years in Mosul and arrived in Egypt in 1997. Studying codicology at the Institute of Arab Manuscripts (ALECSO) and heading IDEO’s library made him aware of the challenges that lie in the link between culture and information technology. He is the initiator and designer of the software AlKindi, designed to manage Arabic libraries’ funds.

He obtained his PhD under the supervision of Pr. Abdallah Cheikh-Moussa (University of Paris IV ‒ Sorbonne) on November 14th, 2015. He worked on the edition and analysis of the first chapters of the autobiography of Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad al-Sakhāwī (831‒902/1427‒1497), entitled Iršād al-ġāwī bal isʿād al-ṭālib wa-l-rāwī li-l-iʿlām bi-tarǧamat al-Saḫāwī.

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