In 2017, JSTOR received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study processes for digitizing Arabic-language scholarly content. Our goal was to develop a workflow for scanning Arabic journals that is cost-efficient, feasible to implement at scale, and able to produce high-quality images, metadata, and fully searchable text.

In a recently released white paper, “Digitizing printed Arabic journals: is a scalable solution possible?,” ITHAKA’s Anne Ray, Senior Licensing Editor, and John Kiplinger, Director of Production, contextualize JSTOR’s investigation in the broader landscape of digital scholarly journal literature in Arabic, document our approach and findings from this project, and report on some areas for further research. Among its conclusions, the paper establishes that it is possible to digitize Arabic language journals with a high degree of accuracy, and that cost could be reduced through continuous improvements in the optical character recognition software engine. This exploration was conducted in collaboration with the American University in Beirut and the Open Islamicate Text Initiative.