The UCR Library staff experimented with crowdsourcing to describe a collection of 50 Arabic manuscript leaves and facilitate their electronic discovery.
At two events called “Hivemind,” the library hosted more than 50 UC Riverside community members with a knowledge of Arabic and/or the Quran.
At the first event in May 2018, attendees helped to identify, transcribe, and describe the content of those newly-acquired original manuscripts. Dr. Imad Bayoun, staff research associate in the Entomology Department and faculty advisor to the Muslim Student Association, also gave a brief talk on the history of calligraphy in Islam.
During the second event in April 2019, attendees previewed the newly digitized collection, and library staff collected feedback on how to improve the descriptions accompanying the digitized images, which will help researchers to find and use these materials.
“It was a joy to see so many members of our campus community connect and learn from each other,” said Robin M. Katz, Primary Source Literacy Teaching Librarian and organizer of the Hivemind events.
This digitized collection was recently published online through Calisphere and made available for scholarly research. Find it under the heading Historical Artifacts Collection from UCR: calisphere.org/collections/27117/
The online collection will eventually contain more examples of manuscript and printed leaves and gatherings in Western and non-Western languages, calligraphy and scripts.
Staff from across the library, including members of Special Collections and University Archives, Teaching & Learning, Metadata & Technical Services, and Digitization Services collaborated on the digital collection and helped to facilitate both Hivemind events. The events were co-sponsored by the UCR Library, the Middle East Student Center and the Muslim Student Association at UC Riverside.
“This is just the beginning,” Katz added. “Now that these materials are online, we hope to learn more about when and where the manuscripts originated.” She encouraged scholars and community members to explore and use the digital collection, and then to reach out to the UCR Library to share their thoughts.