Rabat, Morocco (TMT)- Al-Qarawiyyin University’s library, located in Fez, Morocco, is widely believed to be the oldest library in the world, dating back to the ninth century. It is home to an impressive collection of rare manuscripts, some of which are deemed to be the most unique in the world. However, due to limited access, the curator has been the only person with special access to some of these manuscripts. To address this issue, the library has installed a new laboratory in 2016 to oversee the preservation and digitalization of the 4,000 manuscripts on site. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Computational Linguistics in Italy.
The primary objective of this project is to provide the necessary means and tools, both in terms of hardware and software, to digitalize this cultural heritage and to make it available to the world at large. The new machinery that has been installed for this purpose is also capable of identifying holes in the ancient rolls, enabling necessary repairs to be carried out during the digitization process. Currently, around 20 percent of the manuscripts have been scanned and digitized.
The library is currently undergoing significant refurbishment, and the digital project is an essential part of this renovation. The goal of this renovation is to reopen the library to the public in early 2017. By doing so, the library hopes to provide scholars and enthusiasts around the world with access to the world’s oldest library and its invaluable collection of rare manuscripts.
The al-Qarawiyyin Library’s digital project is a significant step forward in making its rare and unique manuscripts accessible to a wider audience. The library’s new digital archive will allow scholars and researchers from around the world to study these ancient texts, which were previously inaccessible due to the limited access to the manuscripts. The refurbishment of the library is also an exciting development, as it will make this historic institution accessible to the public once again after a long period of closure. This is a significant achievement for the preservation of cultural heritage and an important contribution to scholarship and knowledge.
The Moroccan Times.