Cultural Imaginings: the creation of the Arab World in the Western Mind is a collaboration between The George Washington University's Gelman Library and Georgetown University's Lauinger Library funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services to evaluate automatic book scanning methodology by digitizing approximately 2,500 monographic volumes and a number of bound manuscripts from the Middle East and North Africa. The project will assess the cost-effectiveness of using automated digitization technologies and develop metrics to analyze the cost of digitization for high productivity and high quality images, with the goal of calculating the cost of digitization per page. The Cultural Imaginings project will demonstrate how a high productivity digitization effort can produce a significant volume of scholarly content in a quick, convenient, and reliable manner, and allow scholars of all ages to study the “orientalization” of the Middle East in the popular imagination of the West.
As books are scanned and post-processing work on the digital files is completed, the resulting digital objects are being loaded into the Cultural Imaginings Collection on the GWDSpace server. While this site is a work in progress, it already provides access to more than 600 completed ebooks which are open to the public to explore.