August 2015 | Nate Pedersen

Iraq Moving Quickly to Digitize National Library

Digitization efforts are underway at the Baghdad National Library to preserve one-of-a-kind books and manuscripts. With the looming threat of ISIS on the horizon -- an organization determined to destroy and rewrite Iraq's history - the digitization efforts have a unique sense of urgency.

The head of the library's microfilm department said in an interview with The Associated Press that they are testing a digitization process with documents from the Interior Ministry under Iraq's last monarch Faisal II.

In the meantime, older documents are undergoing a careful restoration process to prepare them for digitization.

"Once restoration for some of the older documents from the Ottoman era, 200 to 250 years ago, is completed, we will begin to photograph these onto microfilm.

The manuscripts will not be immediately available for public viewing. Instead, the digitization efforts are primarily a form of threat prevention. The library lost 25% of its books and 60% of its archives when arsonists set fire to the library during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The library hopes digitization will help prevent such catastrophic loss in the future.

[Image of the library after the 2003 fire from Wikipedia]