The Prime Minister of Turkey H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the library of IRCICA in its new premises at Silahhane Building, Yıldız Palace, at a ceremony held on 17 May 2009 in the central Palace courtyard. The ceremony marked the opening, within the same building, of the Digital Library for the Muslim World sponsored by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum was represented by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development of the United Arab Emirates Mr. Abd al-Rahman M. al-Uwais. Mr. Mohammed al-Murr, Vice Chairman, Culture and Arts Authority of Dubai and member of IRCICA Governing Board, and Mr. Jamal bin Houaireb Al-Muhairy, Cultural Advisor at the Executive Office, Dubai Government, participated in the opening. H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference was present at the ceremony. The Ambassadors and Consul Generals of OIC Member States in Turkey were present.
H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, inaugurated IRCICA Library in its new premises Digital Library for the Muslim World sponsored by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai, established at IRCICA H.E. Mr. Muammer Güler, Governor of Istanbul and H.E. Dr. Kadir Topbaş, Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul, were present. Accompanying the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Egemen Bağış, Minister of State of Turkey for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, and Mr. Beşir Atalay, Minister of Interior of Turkey, attended the ceremony. Faculty members from various universities, and the heads of libraries in Istanbul, participated in the event.
IRCICA library is a repository of references on subjects relating to history, culture, arts, languages, and social sciences in general, with special focus on the Muslim world. Since 1983, the library’s collections were preserved and put to service in the Çit Qasr building within the Yıldız Palace complex. The collections were steadily enlarged and diversified over the years. In recent years, need arose for more space to accommodate the growing collections and facilitate access to library services. Silahhane (Armoury) Building, one of the largest buildings of Yıldız Palace complex, was allocated to IRCICA by the Government of the Republic of Turkey in 2007. A large-scale Expansion and Development Project of IRCICA Library was undertaken in this building during 2007-May 2009. The re-arrangement and furnishing of the building and establishment of a digital section within the library was made possible with the generous sponsorship extended by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai. On completion of these projects the library was opened for use in its new premises by H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, on 17 May 2009.
IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren said in his welcoming address that the historical Yıldız Palace was opening a new window towards the Muslim world that day: its Silahhhane Building, filled with treasures of knowledge in fulfillment of its new function assigned under the patronage of His Excellency Prime Minister Erdoğan, was being opened by the Prime Minister and put to the service of culture and learning. A major development concretised in the now spacious premises was the re-arrangement of the library’s sections and establishment of a pioneering project: the Digital Library for the Muslim World, which were rendered possible thanks to the generous contribution of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai. Thus these premises symbolising common histories of peoples of the Muslim world were now going to house modern projects serving the knowledge and information needs of the age. That was also a most memorable day in the history of IRCICA. Dr. Eren gave information on the new methods and arrangements put to effect in the library, including the Radio Frequency Identification System – RFID which was being put to use for the first time in the libraries of Turkey and its region. Dr. Eren expressed his deep gratitude to Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Turkish Government, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in particular, for the allocation of Silahhane Building to IRCICA’s library. He conveyed his profound gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum for his generous sponsorship of the library’s refurbishing and setting up of the digital sector.
Dr. Eren recalled with gratitude that IRCICA library had originally been established at the foresighted initiative of His Excellency Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the OIC, soon after the establishment of the Centre in 1980, and developed constantly under his direction and through his personal efforts. He also expressed his gratitude to Prof. İhsanoğlu for the continuous support and encouragement given to IRCICA. The Governor of Istanbul H.E. Mr. Muammer Güler addressed the audience. He said the library of IRCICA is a monument which houses works that throw light on the past and guide knowledge towards the future. Yıldız Palace had served the Ottoman Empire starting from the 17th century and then the Republic of Turkey through its various functions, and that in our time its buildings were being rendered operational after restoration. Mr. Güler pointed to the irreplaceable role of the library as the only source for learning, teaching and reflection, and congratulated IRCICA which always acts in full conscience of this fact. The Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development of the United Arab Emirates Mr. Abd al-Rahman M. al-Uwais, representing H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Emir of Dubai, conveyed the greetings of His Highness on this occasion which marks the beginning of an important cultural project put at the service of research in the field of world civilisation in general and Islamic civilisation in particular. He said that the United Arab Emirates gives importance to supporting cultural projects and the idea of helping the establishment of the digital library at IRCICA, in this historical monument located in Istanbul, where East and West meet, came in this context, as a manifestation of the cooperation of the Government of the United Arab Emirates with the OIC on one hand, and the brotherly Republic of Turkey, host country of IRCICA, on the other. The Minister also alluded to the multiple visits he had made to IRCICA through which he became acquainted with its work aiming at activating Islamic arts and culture and training young generations in these fields. Mr. Uwais expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister of Turkey for his patronage and presiding of this ceremony which were clear messages expressing the interest accorded by the Prime Minister and the Government of Turkey to culture and cultural heritage. Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the OIC, delivered an address in which he recalled the first visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan to IRCICA in 1994 during his functions as the Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul and remembered with gratitude that since then and in all his functions Mr. Erdoğan had given his continuous support to the Centre and that again, Silahhane Building was put to the Centre’s use under his patronage.
The Secretary General said that this development was a turning point in IRCICA’s almost 30-year history and expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey. Prof. İhsanoğlu conveyed his gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Emir of Dubai, for the support extended towards realisation of the reinstallation project. He said that His Highness had made his country and Dubai a center of development and that the ten-billion dollars fund earmarked for science and culture was a monument of the universal mission His Highness undertook. The Secretary General praised the efforts of IRCICA which for almost thirty years had been contributing to peace among civilisations by highlighting the products of Islamic culture and civilisation, their contributions to world science and culture and Islam’s principles of intercultural tolerance, and by helping researchers. These accomplishments would not have been possible without deep commitment on the part of IRCICA, and the development of the library was another such accomplishment; in this regard he congratulated the Director General of IRCICA Dr. Halit Eren and his colleagues. H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, expressed his wish that the new library building will open new horizons for everybody. He said that following the allocation of the building to IRCICA preparations had been made rapidly. The Prime Minister said “Certainly, the place is very important, we are in Yıldız Palace, one of the most distinguished architectural monuments of Istanbul; I believe by allocating this splendid building to IRCICA and its valuable library of international scale, we have rendered it even more valuable and linked the past to the future.” Prime Minister Erdoğan expressed his great happiness, in particular, that with the allocation of this building a contribution is made to this Centre. “A treasure of knowledge rarely equaled in the world and a historical heritage are being preserved in this library; academicians, researchers and students from many countries of the world come here to use these works. But moreover, this Centre carries significance and importance much larger than this; this Centre and its library manifest concretely the importance that was given to knowledge, science, and the book over a vast geography; we are the heirs of a civilisation which is based on reading.” The Prime Minister said that scientists and artists of this civilisation considered knowledge a rare commodity and sought it all their lives. Those who traveled from Andalusia to Damascus under all hardships to find one book of which they only heard the name, those who devoted a whole life to research in order to have access to a treatise, to obtain an article, made this civilisation one of devotion and one of learning. The Eastern contribution to world civilisation is so important that it can never be unnoticed. The scholarly institutions and libraries established in the past in Baghdad, Isphahan, Spain, Cordoba, Beirut, Damascus and Istanbul have no equals.
The library of IRCICA is a tangible representative of those achievements. The Prime Minister expressed his sincere wish that all those who have the possibility of visiting this library, these historical premises, and people from all institutions of learning of Istanbul, do so. He conveyed his gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum for his valuable contributions to the digital library, a pioneering initiative in the Muslim world. He expressed his thanks to Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of OIC, for ensuring the Centre’s development since the beginning; to Dr. Halit Eren, Director General of IRCICA, and his colleagues who contributed in this development. As a souvenir of the event, H.E. Prof. İhsanoğlu and Dr. Eren presented Prime Minister Erdoğan with a plaque of gratitude and the annotated album Al-Quds/Jerusalem in historical photographs newly published by IRCICA. A copy of the album was also presented to Minister Mr. Abd al-Rahman Uways. Then, the guests toured Silahhane Building and received information on the activities of the library. The distinguished guests received information on the collections of the library 5 Newsletter January -May 2009, NO: 78 Brief information on IRCICA Library The collection comprises, among others, 70,000 volumes of books 10,000 grey literature containing off-prints of articles, reports, brochures 1,150 microfilms and microfiches including microfilms of the Ottoman official gazette Takvim-i Vekayi 1,500 atlases, maps and plans 1,570 titles of periodicals, 400 of them complete sets of scholarly academic journals. The collection’s distribution among languages is, in the order of frequency, as Turkish, Arabic, English, French, German, Persian. Among them are periodicals such as the Journal of The Royal Asiatic Society, Index Islamicus, Takvim-i Vekayi, Tasvir-i Efkâr and Madjallat al-Athar. The whole collection is in 140 languages. The library cooperates with approximately 582 libraries and institutions specialised in fields related to its own. The Centre’s publications and duplicate copies of its collection are exchanged with theirs. The library serves visitors from allover the world in addition to the research needs of its own departments. Outside researchers who visit the library include university scholars, researchers and students, researchers from state institutions, media institutions and private companies, and interested people from all sectors of life. The average annual number of visits to the library is 3500.
The Digital Library sector, a pioneering initiative in the Muslim world, is being developed with the latest electronic librarianship techniques. This sector will include the Electronic Database of textual and visual materials which will in time become accessible on global scale. The new techniques will offer possibilities of conversion and storage of texts in digital form but also of conservation and restoration of traditional library materials by modern methods. The nucleus of this e-library is the existing library collection. With the conversion into digital form, it will be possible to acquire and provide library services over a global network of interactive connections. The digital sector of the library will consist of mainly three parts. The first one is the Electronic Database on Islamic Civilisation. The materials to be selected from IRCICA’s own library and from other sources will be scanned and stored. The foremost objective is to digitalise the existing written, printed, audio and visual materials in a readable, usable and correctible form. This will be followed by conversion of materials to be obtained from external sources. The second part will consist of the scanned and digitalised versions of IRCICA’s publications numbering about 200 editions. A third portion will be the database whereby subscriptions to selected digital sources and databases will render them accessible to IRCICA library’s users.