Rahim S. Rajan, an alumnus of The Institute of Ismaili Studies’ Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities, gave a detailed overview and demonstration of the Aluka initiative on 6th June to IIS faculty, staff and students.

Content Areas in Aluka

Aluka is a not-for-profit organisation building a digital library about Africa in partnership with governments, libraries, museums, as well as cultural and scientific organisations around the world. As Aluka’s Collections Development Manager, Mr Rajan is responsible for leading the content development of the digital library and for building partnerships and collaborations with a variety of organisations and institutions.

The name ‘Aluka’ (from a Zulu word meaning ‘to weave’) reflects the organisation’s mission to connect resources, knowledge, and scholars. Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Ithaka is enabling Aluka to develop online content about Africa in three broad areas which will interest a diversity of researchers and scholars (see Content Areas in Aluka). As the digital library grows, participating institutions and users (scholars and students) will also have an opportunity to contribute to the development of the library by contributing research and scholarly materials about Africa to the database.

Mr. Rajan explained how Aluka works closely with partner organisations in Africa to build capacity in digitisation and in the use of online materials for teaching and research. This has included setting up digital laboratories and providing technical training in scanning and creating metadata records. Aluka has also convened training workshops for librarians, archivists, faculty, and heritage professionals on topics related to digital imaging, preservation, and the use of online tools in the classroom.

Research and academic institutions around the world will be requested to contribute towards Aluka’s sustainability by contributing a modest annual fee to help offset the operating costs of providing access to the digital library and services offered. African academic, research, and not-for-profit organisations will be able to access Aluka at no charge. Additional information about Aluka is available at www.aluka.org.