At the Emirates Literature Foundation, we believe in the power of books. We know literature can change and improve lives.
And yet there is little information about Arabic books and authors available to the public, either offline or online. The desire to read any given book starts with knowing it exists. The lack of information means that books do not find their audience. For our stories to live on, we need this information — especially in the digital era.
The Kateb Maktub project was conceived to raise awareness of not only authors and books, but of the critical importance of high-quality information. That is why the Foundation is asking schools, universities, and individuals to get involved and work together to increase and enrich Arabic content online.
It is not enough for information to be online for search engines to find it. A search engine cannot identify an author’s name if it is not accurately described in a way it understands. We are creating pages that are structured and coded so they can be found and understood.
We aim to connect the dots of the Arabic publishing ecosystem, so highlighting the value of quality information to stakeholders of the industry and reaching out to schools and universities, is key. We also reach out to our extended press network with regular updates about authors we have gathered information about, who deserve to be known by a wider audience.
We have partnered with key digital institutions such as Wikipedia to increase the number of pages dedicated to Arab authors in both English and Arabic, and with Google to make sure our work fills in the current gaps. We are also working with ISNI to ensure that Arab authors have unique identifiers, to reduce ambiguity.
We offer training sessions for anyone wishing to learn how to create Wikipedia pages. These sessions also explain the importance of reliable, accurate, and specific information, which is crucial for those helping gather data.
ONIX stands for Online International Exchange and represents a set of descriptive metadata standards that are used in the book industry worldwide, all the way from Amazon to the Library of Congress in the United States. ONIX has been adopted by many publishing companies and has become part of the international industry’s best practices because it conveys rich bibliographic information about each book — especially author details.
In addition to creating Wikipedia pages, Kateb Maktub will also be publishing author pages on our website following international recognised ONIX structuring standards. This way, the information on these authors will be visible to search engines even before the Wikipedia pages are up. The more structured pages there are, the more likely it is that search engines like Google will find the right information. We hope that introducing these standards will inspire other stakeholders to follow, making ONIX widely adopted in the Arab region.
An International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) is part of an international system that helps identify the persons or organisations involved in media content creation such as books television programmes, and newspaper articles. This includes not only an author’s persona but also any pseudonyms, and all possible spellings of their name within or across languages, resulting in improved search results. This unique 16-digit identifier is only attributed after bibliographic verification, helping prevent any ambiguity regarding an author’s identity online, an issue that can arise when dealing with names in translation.
The Emirates Literature Foundation has joined ISNI as a registration agency, alongside others like the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the British Library. Interested authors, publishers, libraries, and other institutions interesting in obtaining ISNIs are welcome to contact the ISO Standards.