Digital library gathers millions of pages of Ottoman documents
An online digital library project, “WikiLala,” which aims to bring together and digitize all the printed texts from the Ottoman Empire since the introduction of the printing press, has been shedding new light on the empire’s history and culture.
In line with the project, more than 100,000 of pages of content consisting of books, magazines, newspapers and documents in Ottoman Turkish, can be accessed only with a click.
The project has been in the works since 2019 with the initiative of Hiperlink, the founder of Turkey’s first digital library, project manager Sadi Özgür and Harun Tuncer, project consultant and academic member at the History Department of Istanbul Aydın University.
Tuncer stated that after the reformation of the alphabet in 1928, which converted the official alphabet of Turkey into Latin letters, there was a serious and significant separation and disengagement from the Ottoman era, he said.
He noted that there was a significant treasure trove of knowledge waiting to be discovered in Ottoman documents since the time of İbrahim Müteferrika, who introduced the printing press to the empire and was the first Muslim to run a printing press with movable Arabic type.
Researchers can access the documents online without having to obtain physical copies from libraries.
They can also search through the documents easily and quickly using the system’s search engine, which can be used with Arabic and Latin letters thanks to the optical character recognition (OCR) technique used in the scans.
Half of the documents that could be accessed, nearly 2 million-page corpus, will be uploaded to the system within a year.