Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jerusalem Virtual Library: The Academic Database on Historic Jerusalem

Jerusalem Virtual Library: The Academic Database on Historic Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Library, initiated in 2001 by Prof. Sari Nusseibah, President of Al-Quds University and Prof. Ronnie Ellenblum of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is meant to be a comprehensive resource for the history of Jerusalem. The library, hosted together by the two universities, enables free access to digitized historical materials and primary sources about Jerusalem. The collections are based on the archives of the Jewish National Library, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the collections of al-Quds University.
To date, most of the historical sources are kept in national, religious, municipal and private archives and are not accessible to all. Physical and non-tangible barriers prevent potential readers, in Jerusalem and elsewhere from exploring the vast and complicated history of the city. The virtual library is meant to overcome these barriers
The Library makes use of innovative content-oriented IT tools and enables a more convenient, home-based search in the documents themselves. The biggest part of the collections are books, maps, photographs, engravings and inscriptions published for the first time before the beginning of the 20th century.
The material is scanned, OCR'd and thoroughly indexed. The indexing was carried out by a group of Palestinian and Israeli students who were supervised by specialists specializing in Classical Languages, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Geography History and Christianity,
The basic idea of the library is to enable the user to retrieve indexed extracts of various fields. Efforts were made to include topics such as gender, feelings, various stages in life, love, war, hatred, inter-community relations and other topics which are usually not included in traditional indexes. These features will enable the Library users to directly access historical data, thus eliminating the external narrator or historian as the interpreter of history.
Creating such an academic unbiased approach to the history of Jerusalem is a challenging task for while Jerusalem is the contested capital of two peoples, it is also a spiritual center for each of the world's three monotheistic religions and a universal symbol of hope and holiness. Through the Library, Jerusalem will be made accessible not only to its own residents and the countries that shoulder responsibility for its future, but to the entire world.

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