Friends of the Library

African Journals Online (AJOL)

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Mon, 12/06/2021 - 13:24

African Journals Online (AJOL) is a not-for-profit organisation based in South Africa founded in May 1998 with the aim to promote online access to African-published peer-reviewed research. It was initially conceived and developed as a pilot project by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP), a Non Profit Organisation based in Oxford, UK. In August 2000, AJOL relaunched featuring 50 English language African ­published journals in agricultural sciences, science and technology, health and social sciences. In the following years, many titles from South Africa and Francophone Africa were added, and the database was redesigned and improved.

At the time of our visit, AJOL hosted 551 journals, of which 291 are full-text available (Open Access), and indexed millions of articles (with abstract when available) authored by scholars from 35 African countries.

Since 1998, AJOL has been working for African research to contribute to African development (…). AJOL main page, Dec. 6, 2021.

The Board overseeing AJOL is made of researchers, scholarly publishers and academic librarians. Apart from its founding collaboration with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP), African Journals Online is also supported by international organizations such as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Ford Foundation, World Wide Science Alliance (WWS Alliance), Hirani, Research for Health programme and the  Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative.

Journals considered for integration to African Journals Online are selected according to the criteria outlined below:

  1. “The journal must be scholarly in content, and contain original research (in addition to other content)
  2. The content is peer-reviewed and quality controlled
  3. The journal has an established publishing track record 
  4. The journal has an actively functioning Editorial Board (institutional affiliations and contact details required)
  5. The journal has a registered ISSN and eISSN
  6. The journal will provide all content for inclusion on AJOL (tables of contents, abstracts, and full text) in electronic format and in a timely manner. Partner journals are responsible for ensuring their content on AJOL is up to date.
  7. The journal guarantees all requisite permissions are granted to allow AJOL to operate an article download service
  8. The journal is published within the African continent (i.e. management of publishing strategy, business development and production operation are all run from an African country).”

AJOL journals’ collection can be browsed by category (disciplin), title (alphabetically), country of publication:

Open Access journals are tagged as such on the general titles‘ list, and also compiled in a Free-to-read titles’ list:

In addition, African Journals Online makes available guidelines for different professionals (researchers, librarians and authors) to best use the platform (see below) and links to numerous additional resources.

The website is available in English only.

The Poetry Encyclopedia الموسوعة الشعرية

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Fri, 11/26/2021 - 14:52

The Poetry Encyclopedia الموسوعة الشعرية is the first electronic encyclopedia of Arabic poetry launched in 1998, and then the website was updated in April 2016. The Encyclopedia is a model that demonstrates the efforts of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism to enhance the cultural scene. The department is keen to research, record and document the ancient heritage of Arab culture, and reissuing it in a modern form as a sustainable legacy for current and future generations.

All those interested in literature, poetry and readers can visit the Poetry Encyclopedia and take advantage of the resources, content, easy search channels and interactive applications available through this new advanced edition. “Poetry Encyclopedia 2016” a new vision for cultural resources.

The homepage displays various corners, such as Poet and Diwan شاعر و ديوان, poem of the day قصيدة اليوم, article of the month المقالات الشهرية and the listening corner الاستماع للقصائد, which includes a large number of poems heard by the voices of elite poets and artists. The heritage library and linguistic dictionaries are other areas that are worthwhile exploring.

The encyclopedia currently presents selected collections of elite Arab poets, past and present, even if the poets didn’t have a printed collection. It includes about 3 million verses within 143,000 poems in 3,080 collections.

It is important to note that the new version provides information on the poet, the poetic diwan, the appropriateness of the poem’s systems (Metre and rhyme), and the ability to search for a specific poetic sentence.

In addition to the heritage library corner, which includes 488 references of the most famous and the most important collections and encyclopedias of Arabic literature and its dictionaries.

The encyclopedia provides an interactive electronic portal and an integrated tributary of knowledge and literature. It provides readers with easy and quick access to a wide range of poems and listen to them in different techniques. As well as providing an archive space, and channels for recording their impressions and opinions.

Six ways to celebrate McGill’s fall convocation, Library-style

Library Matters - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 13:19

Congratulations, graduates! Fall Convocation is upon us and it’s the first time in two years that students, families, and faculties are able to celebrate in person. At this time of year, we usually jot down a list of Library activities to do with visiting family members. As only current McGill student, faculty, and staff are able to access Library spaces, we’re including mostly virtual activities.

And remember, we’re celebrating your amazing accomplishments right along with you. Those long hours in the Library, Study Hubs, and your home offices sure paid off. Félicitations!


Celebrate with unique McGill GIFs, both contemporary and historical on McGill’s GIPHY page: and the Library’s own GIPHY:

Left: McGill postcard: The McGill University Girls Series, ca 1909. F. Earl Christy (1882-1961). McGill University Archives 2007-0090.03.1. Right: McGill postcard: The University Girls Series, 1907. F. Earl Christy. McGill University Archives, PU042016. McGilliana: 200 Years of Student Life

McGilliana is both a virtual and in-person exhibition that celebrates McGill’s 200-year history and includes a complete section on Convocation, the moment every student is working towards!


C is for Convocation. What better way to celebrate the class of 2021 than with the recent pop-up book, “AMAZE: a McGill A to Z Experience”? See McGill’s 200-year history unfold before your eyes:

Zoom backgrounds

Bring McGill with you! Zoom backgrounds of your favourite Library spaces will allow you to visit any time you like: Or if rare collections are more your thing, use a gem from the Library’s world-class holdings as your backdrop as you embark on your next adventure:


You’re in good company! Get inspired by history, tradition and the accomplishments of McGill graduates of yesteryear and digitally browse Old McGill and Clan Macdonald yearbooks:

Colour our Collections

Download our McGill Library colouring book and get creative:

When is a skull just a skull? Changing perspectives on racism in medical education

Library Matters - Tue, 11/23/2021 - 12:48

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By Mary Hague-Yearl, History of Medicine Librarian, Osler Library of the History of Medicine

Look closely at the skulls shown here below. What do you see? Are they simply former humans? Perhaps your view will change after learning more about what was taught two centuries ago. When is a skull just a skull?

From the section on the skeleton, Ducrot drew frontal and lateral images of an idealized skull. J. E[ugène] Ducrot, Cahier d’histoire naturelle (1835-17): à Moulins, f. 45.

The opening illustration comes from the 1835-37 natural history notes of a university student named Eugène Ducrot. Historical lecture notes bear witness to how students received what they were taught. Ducrot copied information without visible question, without judgment. The skulls represent what he thinks a perfect specimen should look like.

What might change your perspective is a glance at his section on ethnography. Is a skull a skull, or is the default skull that of a European male? Ducrot breaks humanity into three races that we would translate as: white European, Asian, African. He includes an image of what the head of each looks like. I won’t share those images because the non-European heads are what we now recognize as gross stereotypes. Ducrot copies down that Europeans are distinguished by the beauty of their oval features. As evidence of their “perfectibility,” he records that they have given birth to the “most civilized” peoples on earth. By contrast, his remarks about Africans contain a list of racist descriptions of the skull, nose, lips, hair.

Student notes are not original: they relay what is taught to hundreds of others. It is not difficult to find other texts that contain similar messages. On the teaching end one can look at military surgeon and artist Jean-Galbert Salvage, who in 1812 produced an elephant folio volume,  Anatomie du gladiateur combattant, in which he combined his medical and artistic knowledge to teach painters the anatomy they needed to draw realistic figures. The models he used were all of one variety: the ancient male.

Salvage shares that it is the shape of the head, above all, that distinguishes human races.

In this plate, Salvage demonstrated the ideal proportions of the human body. Note his depiction of the skulls of different human races, which he placed down the right side. Jean-Galbert Salvage, Anatomie du gladiateur combattant, applicable aux beaux arts,(Paris, 1812), Plate 19.

It is the brain – the seat of reason and morality – that determines the shape of the skull. Displaying a racism masquerading as science, he describes measuring the angle between the front of the chin and the forehead in subjects from Jupiter (the pinnacle) down the spectrum to birds. Jupiter has an angle of 100 degrees; Apollo 90 degrees; a European 80 degrees; a Black person 70 degrees; an ape 60 degrees. The higher the angle, the more developed the brain, the more developed the morality. Ducrot learned similar lessons twenty years later.

These texts, from two centuries ago, reflect the early decades of a so-called scientific approach to race. They come from a time when the pseudo-science of race was used to justify slavery (still legal in the French colonies when both of those works were created). These views have been thoroughly discredited. Race is a social construct, yet the stereotypes continue and are baked into systemic racism: persistence despite change. Returning to the question of whether a skull is a skull, consider this: if non-Europeans are always depicted as “other” and the European form is presented as perfection, is the model skull not implicitly that of a European?

Et si un crâne n’était rien d’autre qu’un crâne? Évolution des points de vue sur le racisme dans la formation médicale

Par Mary Hague-Yearl, bibliothécaire d’histoire de la médecin, Bibliothèque Osler d’histoire de la médecin

Observez de près les crânes de l’illustration ci-dessous. Que voyez-vous?S’agit-il tout simplement de restes humains? Peut-être changerez-vous d’avis à la lumière de l’enseignement prodigué il y a deux siècles. Et si un crâne n’était rien d’autre qu’un crâne?

Ducrot a dessiné des images frontales et latérales du crâne idéal à partir d’une section du squelette. J. E[ugène] Ducrot, Cahier d’histoire naturelle (1835-17): à Moulins, f. 45. 

La première illustration nous provient des notes d’histoire naturelle qu’a couchées sur papier Eugène Ducrot, étudiant de niveau universitaire entre 1835 et 1837. Ces notes de cours témoignent de la manière dont les étudiants recevaient les notions enseignées auparavant. Nulle trace de question ni de discernement dans les notions qu’a recopiées Ducrot. Les crânes correspondent à ce qu’il considère comme le spécimen parfait.

Vous pourriez changer d’avis après avoir jeté un coup d’œil dans cette section consacrée à l’ethnographie. Un crâne est-il véritablement un crâne ou est-ce celui dont hérite par défaut l’Homme européen? Ducrot répartit l’humanité en trois races que nous décririons ainsi : l’Européen blanc, l’Asiatique et l’Africain. Il ajoute une représentation de la tête de chaque race. J’évite de montrer ces images parce que les têtes autres qu’européennes sont ce que nous considérons aujourd’hui comme des stéréotypes grossiers. Ducrot écrit que les Européens se distinguent par la beauté de leurs traits ovales. Et, à titre de preuve de leur « perfection », il ajoute qu’ils ont donné naissance aux gens « les plus civilisés » sur Terre. En revanche, ses remarques sur les Africains contiennent une liste de descriptions racistes de crânes, de nez, de lèvres et de cheveux.

Les notes n’ont rien d’original puisqu’elles relayaient les enseignements délivrés à des centaines d’autres étudiants. Il est aisé de trouver d’autres textes qui contiennent des messages du même acabit. En matière d’enseignement, on peut se reporter à Jean-Galbert Salvage, chirurgien militaire et artiste, qui a produit en 1812 Anatomie du gladiateur combattant, ouvrage gigantesque qui combinait ses connaissances médicales et artistiques en vue d’enseigner aux peintres les notions d’anatomie dont ils avaient besoin pour dessiner des figures réalistes. Les modèles croqués étaient uniformes : l’Homme ancien.

Selon Salvage, la forme de la tête joue un rôle déterminant dans la distinction des races humaines.

Salvage expose les proportions idéales du corps humain sur cette planche. Voyez, à droite, sa description des crânes des diverses races humaines. Jean-Galbert Salvage, Anatomie du gladiateur combattant, applicable aux beaux-arts,(Paris, 1812), planche 19.  

Et c’est le cerveau – siège de la raison et de la morale – qui dicte la forme du crâne. Tout en déployant son racisme derrière le paravent de la science, il décrit comment mesurer l’angle entre le devant du menton et le front de sujets qui vont de Jupiter (au sommet) jusqu’à l’oiseau, à l’autre extrémité du spectre. Jupiter possède un angle de 100 degrés; Apollon, 90 ; l’Européen, 80; un Noir, 70 et, un singe, 60 degrés. Le développement du cerveau est proportionnel à l’angulation qui, dans les cas les plus élevés, correspond aux cerveaux et à la moralité culminants. Quelque vingt ans plus tard, Ducrot apprend des leçons analogues.

Ces textes qui remontent à deux siècles témoignent des premières décennies d’une approche soi-disant scientifique appliquée à la race. Ils sont issus d’une époque où la pseudoscience de la race servait à justifier l’esclavage (toujours légal dans les colonies françaises quand ces deux ouvrages ont vu le jour). Ces perceptions ont été totalement discréditées. Comme la race est une construction sociale, les stéréotypes perdurent et mijotent sous la forme du racisme systémique, soit dans la persistance en dépit du changement. Pour en revenir à la question qui consiste à savoir si un crâne est un crâne, songeons que les non-Européens sont toujours décrits comme « autres », et que la forme européenne présentée comme la perfection n’est-elle pas implicitement celle d’un Européen?

Art & Action | Two recent acquisitions by Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos

Library Matters - Tue, 11/23/2021 - 12:44

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By Michelle Macleod, Assistant Curator, McGill Visual Arts Collection

On June 4th, 2020, McGill Visual Arts Collection published a statement on its website that outlined a commitment to meaningful inclusion and change to the collection. Inspired by the international movement to combat anti-Black racism, the VAC pledged an “incorporation of Black contemporary and historical experience through the collection of artwork and inclusion of Black voices.” In response, the VAC set its sights on acquiring artworks by Black artists and artists from other underrepresented communities. Two recent acquisitions in early 2021 by Trinidadian/Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos show how we have been able to put this idea into action.

Denyse Thomasos, Untitled Kingdom Come, 2011, Acrylic on Paper, 57.15 x 80 cm. McGill Visual Arts Collection, 2021-004. Image courtesy of The Estate of Denyse Thomasos and Olga Korper Gallery

Born in Trinidad and brought up in Ontario, Thomasos (1964-2012), studied at University of Toronto and Yale. She was a teacher at Rutgers University, as well as a widely exhibited artist.  Thomasos’ practice was inspired by architectural details of Indigenous dwellings and institutional buildings that she had seen while travelling around the world. Addressing her own ancestors’ history, she combines references to slave ships, spaces of confinement, and prisons with painting techniques inspired by African weaving, home construction, and the energy of Trinidadian carnivals.

We were fortunate to be able to purchase Sweet Like Cane (1994) and Untitled, Kingdom Come (2011) that exemplify the evolution of the artist’s own painting practice. The all-over patterning of the earlier painting references textile designs of Kente cloth and African stripweave, while the title, Sweet Like Cane, calls attention to the transatlantic slave trade. The later work, Kingdom Come, is from a series of preparatory works for a large-scale mural at Sheridan College’s Oakville Gallery. Drawing upon her in-depth research process and indicative of her mature style, Thomasos layers forms and lines that are based on architectural spaces of historic and contemporary African diaspora experience.

The VAC will soon welcome Sweet Like Cane to the installation of artworks in its Visible Storage Gallery, located on the 4th Floor of McLennan Library.

Denyse Thomasos, Sweet Like Cane, 1994, Acrylic on canvas, 60.96 x 55.88cm. McGill Visual Arts Collection, 2021-003. ©Estate of the Artist. IImage courtesy of The Estate of Denyse Thomasos and Olga Korper Gallery

The VAC’s statement on inclusive collecting.

Art et action : Deux acquisitions récentes de l’artiste canado-trinidadienne Denyse Thomasos

Par Michelle Macleod, curatrice assistante, Collection d’arts visuels de McGill

Le 4 juin 2020, la Collection d’arts visuels (CAV) de McGill a publié un énoncé dans son site Web qui soulignait l’engagement envers une inclusion significative et un changement de contenu. Inspirée par le mouvement antiraciste mondial à l’encontre de la discrimination exercée contre les Noirs, la CAV s’est engagée à « davantage d’inclusion en implantant des changements significatifs de manière à devenir une collection qui reflète l’histoire des Noirs au lieu de l’effacer. Cela se traduit concrètement par l’incorporation d’une expérience contemporaine et historique noire à travers notre collection d’œuvres d’art et par l’inclusion de voix noires dans nos activités. » La CAV a réagi en se tournant vers l’acquisition d’œuvres d’art d’artistes noirs ou de communautés sous-représentées. Au début de 2021, deux acquisitions d’œuvres de l’artiste canado-trinidadienne Denyse Thomasos illustrent à quel point nous sommes passés du concept à l’action.

Denyse Thomasos, Untitled Kingdom Come, 2011, acrylique sure papier, 57.15 x 80 cm. Collection d’arts visuels, 2021-004. Image reproduite avec l’aimable autorisation de la succession de Denyse Thomasos et de la galerie Olga Korper

Née à Trinidad, Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012) qui a grandi en Ontario, a fréquenté les universités de Toronto et Yale. Elle a enseigné à l’Université Rutgers tout en exposant largement ses œuvres. Sa pratique s’inspirait de détails architecturaux de logis indigènes et de ceux d’institutions qu’elle avait vus au fil de ses déplacements dans le monde entier. Quand elle traitait de l’histoire de ses ancêtres, elle combinait des références aux navires négriers, aux lieux de confinement et aux prisons en recourant à des techniques picturales d’inspiration africaine issues du tissage, de la construction de maisons et de l’énergie des carnavals trinidadiens.

Nous avons eu la chance d’acquérir Sweet Like Cane (1994) et Untitled, Kingdom Come (2011) qui démontrent l’évolution de la pratique de l’artiste elle-même. Le modèle omniprésent des références à des œuvres plus anciennes, constituées de tissus Kenteet d’autres pans africains, alors que son titre, Sweet Like Cane,attire l’attention sur le commerce transatlantique d’esclaves. Un tableau subséquent, Kingdom Come, est issu d’une série d’études préparatoires à l’exécution d’une murale de grandes dimensions destinée à la galerie Oakvile du collège Sheridan. Misant sur sa recherche poussée, et témoignant de sa maturité, la peintre superpose des formes et des lignes inspirées de lieux architecturaux et des expériences historiques et contemporaines de la diaspora africaine.

La CAV accueillera sous peu Sweet Like Cane au sein de l’installation d’œuvres dans la Réserve visible, sise au 4e étage de la bibliothèque McLennan.

Denyse Thomasos, Sweet Like Cane, 1994, acrylique sur toile, 60,96 x 55,88 cm. Collection d’arts visuels de McGill, 2021-003. ©Succession de l’artiste. Image reproduite avec l’aimable autorisation de la galerie Olga Korper
L’énoncé de la CAV sur la collecte inclusive.

Dante’s journey into the digital age

Library Matters - Tue, 11/23/2021 - 12:39

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By Ann Marie Holland, Liaison Librarian, Rare Books and Special Collections

The pandemic altered the course of events in innumerable instances. Here in Rare Books, a grand project planned to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death in 1321 was in limbo.

Limbo of Canto 4, in Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Divina Commedia. Milano: Instituto nazionale dantesco, 1923, vol. 1 (Inferno). Rare Books and Special Collections – double elf PQ4302 F23

Originally scheduled for the Fall of 2020, a substantial SSHRC partnership grant was awarded to McGill Professor Matteo Soranzo and colleagues at the Centre d’études médiévales of the Université de Montréal, the Italian Cultural Institute of Montreal, and Concordia University. They had envisioned a series of events in conjunction with the seventh centenary of Dante’s death. The celebrations were to bring Dante specialists together in Montreal, and were to include a numbers of guest lectures illustrated by robust physical exhibits in two institutional spaces. Wide-ranging editions and medieval manuscripts relating to Dante were to be animated by on-site workshops.

Lectures, exhibitions, and instruction sessions – all were at risk of cancellation. A period of silence held us in its grip as Dante’s year was unfolding until finally there was a way to adapt these elements for the “new normal” of distance delivery.

Digital Pivot

In February of 2021, Professor Soranzo contacted us with a change in plans and a newly formed team including: McGill graduate research assistants Cay Rivard and Matteo Ottaviani; and Alessio Marziali Peretti, a doctoral candidate in medieval studies at the Université de Montréal.  The project would pivot to a virtual collaborative exhibition, the central element around which tours and lectures could take place online. Given the strength of the McGill Library’s incunable printings[1], along with sixteenth-century texts, we were called to showcase these and other exceptional works rarely held elsewhere. In fact, Dante is one of the most prevalent authors held at McGill Rare Books – representing a rich treasure trove of literary works and commentary, notably on Dante’s trilogy entitled:  The Divine Comedy

Fortunately, ROAAr’s on-demand digitization programme was running during the pandemic and this framework allowed McGill to move forward under the leadership of Greg Houston, Digitization & New Media Administrator, Digital Initiatives (DI). Rare Books swiftly seconded Octavian Sopt, Senior Documentation Technician, to DI to assist with the detailed digitization work. Librarians Jennifer Garland and Ann Marie Holland paired up for Liaison work.  

But in a universe of closed consultation rooms, locked-down buildings and a lack of digital presence for these particular works, an interesting challenge was placed in front of us. How could we facilitate selection and conduct effective liaison reference work at a distance once the digital surrogates had been delivered?

A new modus operandi for curatorship

We were able to allow curators to examine documents remotely thanks to a clever setup of document cameras, combined with a live Zoom session. With ROAAr librarians literally being the hands turning the pages on-site, over a few weeks we had viewed with the four curators more than 50 items on or about Dante. With the camera setup allowing for real-time discussion and decision-making on the proposed items, we settled on 25 works. 

The results of these combined efforts and the collaboration of three outstanding libraries from Italy, plus two academic libraries from Montreal are simply dazzling.

We invite you to take a journey through Dante’s best-seller, accompanied by spectacular typography and captivating animation starting here:  Amor Mi Mosse,… Dante’s Divine Comedy 700 years later.

[1] Books produced in the first fifty years following the invention of printing in the Western World (ca. 1450) with moveable pieces of metal type.

Le voyage de Dante à l’ère numérique

Par Ann Marie Holland, bibliothécaire de liaison, collections rare et spéciales

La pandémie a changé le cours d’innombrables événements. Ici, à la division des Livres rares et des collections spécialisées, le grand projet planifié pour célébrer le 700e anniversaire du décès de Dante en 1321 battait de l’aile.

Limbes,Canto 4, in Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Divina Commedia. Milan : Instituto nazionaledantesco, 1923, vol. 1 (Inferno). Division des Livres rares et des collections spéciales – PQ4302 F23

Cet événement, initialement prévue pour l’automne 2020, a bénéficié d’une importante subvention de partenariat du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines qui a été attribuée au professeur de McGill Matteo Soranzo et à certains de ses collègues du Centre d’études médiévales de l’Université de Montréal, à l’Institut culturel italien de Montréal et à l’Université Concordia. Tous avaient imaginé une série d’événements qui coïncidaient avec le septième centenaire du décès de Dante. Au nombre des célébrations envisagées, mentionnons les conférences d’invités qui auraient réuni des spécialistes de Dante à Montréal, une exposition  d’envergure dans les espaces des instituions participantes d’œuvres publiées et de manuscrits médiévaux portant sur Dante et animée sur place par des ateliers.

Les conférences, expositions et séances éducatives risquaient toutes l’annulation. Une période de silence nous a maintenus sous son emprise au cours de l’année Dante jusqu’à ce que, finalement, nous trouvions   une solution pour nous adapter à ces éléments dans le contexte de la « nouvelle normalité » et de la présentation à distance.

Pivot numérique

En février 2021, le professeur Soranzo nous a communiqué un changement de plans et la composition d’une équipe nouvellement mise sur pied composée des assistants de recherche mcgillois de cycles supérieurs Cay Rivard et Matteo Ottaviani, de même que d’Alessio Marziali Peretti, candidat au doctorat  à l’Université de Montréal. Le projet se transformerait en une exposition collaborative  virtuelle, élément central autour duquel des visites et des conférences pourraient avoir lieu en ligne. Compte tenu de la force que recèle la collection des incunables[1] de la Bibliothèque de McGill,et celle des textes du XVIe siècle, on nous a demandé d’exposer ces ouvrages, de même que d’autres travaux exceptionnels, initiative rarement vue ailleurs. Dante est l’un des auteurs les plus présents dans la division des Livres rares et des collections spécialisées de McGill, soit une pléthore de trésors littéraires et de commentaires, notamment la trilogie de Dante intitulée La Divine Comédie.

Heureusement, le programme de numérisation sur demande de la Division des livres rares et collections spécialisées était à l’œuvre au cours de la pandémie et à pu accroître ses activités, de telle  sorte que l’Université McGill a pu progresser sous la direction de Greg Houston, administrateur, Numérisation et Nouveaux médias, Initiatives numériques (NI). La Division a rapidement détaché Octavian Sopt, technicien principal en documentation, pour contribuer à cet effort de numérisation. Les bibliothécaires Jennifer Garland et Ann Marie Holland ont travaillé de concert pour le travail de liaison.

Mais, dans un univers de salles de consultation fermées, d’immeubles verrouillés et  du peu de présence sous forme numérique de ces œuvres en particulier, nous nous sommes retrouvés face à un défi intéressant. Une fois la production numérique accomplie, comment pouvions-nous simplifier la sélection et offrir des références efficaces à distance?

Nouveau modus operandi de la fonction de conservateur

Nous avons pu permettre aux  conservateurs d’examiner les documents à distance grâce à un savant montage des appareils photo pour documents combiné à une séance Zoom en direct. Les bibliothécaires de la Division des livres rares et collections spécialisées tournaient littéralement les pages sur les lieux, de sorte qu’en quelques semaines, nous avons visualisé avec les quatre  conservateurs plus de 50 articles sur Dante ou à son sujet. Puisque l’installation de caméras permettait de nous entretenir en temps réel et de prendre des décisions au sujet des pièces proposées, nous avons été en mesure de  sélectionner ainsi  25 œuvres.

Les résultats de ces efforts combinés et la collaboration de trois bibliothèques remarquables d’Italie et de deux bibliothèques universitaires montréalaises sont proprement éblouissants.

Nous vous invitons à explorer ici même le succès de librairie de Dante serti dans une typographie spectaculaire et accompagné d’une animation captivante: Amor Mi Mosse, La Divine Comédie de Dante 700 ans plus tard.

[1]Les livres produits au cours des cinquante premières années qui ont suivi l’invention de l’impression en Occident (vers 1450) étaient dotés de pièces métalliques mobiles.

Looking Back, Leaning Forward | Exhibition highlights from “McGilliana: 200 Years of Student Life”

Library Matters - Tue, 11/23/2021 - 12:32

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By Aeron MacHattie, Archivist, Collection Services

As the McGill community commemorates its bicentennial, it might be an opportune time to find markers by which to measure the ways McGill has grown, both to celebrate achievements and to identify the areas in which growth and further change is required. One possible lens through which to view this change is the McGilliana: 200 Years of Student Life exhibition, now online. The exhibition includes 200 items, organized into ten thematic areas: Academics, Arts, Athletics, Activism, Campus, Convocation, Leisure, Military, Social Events, and Student Organizations. It samples from the collections of the McGill University Archives to offer glimpses of student life throughout the 200 years of McGill’s history through objects that students used and interacted with in their daily lives. Here are just a few of the objects included in the exhibition, with some reflections about the eras that they represent.


Before it was the bustling campus we know today, McGill’s primary focus was medicine. The first medical degree awarded in Canada was granted in 1833 by McGill’s newly established Faculty of Medicine. This admission card for a practical anatomy course gives us a taste of these early days of McGill. The Faculty of Arts was established in 1843, followed soon after by the Faculty of Law in 1848. These three faculties represented McGill’s academic core for another fifty years. The student body at this time was comparatively limited – exclusively male, and predominately wealthy and white. In 1848, William Wright was the first person of colour to earn a medical degree in Canada. Women were first admitted as students to McGill in 1884.

Image: Admission card for practical anatomy course, 1853. McGill University Archives, MG 4319 (4319-02-042).


The later 19th century and early 20th century was a period of significant change at McGill. Begun under J.W. Dawson’s principalship, this era saw the school expand to include programs in architecture, engineering, physics, chemistry, and dentistry – with a corresponding expansion of the student body. By the 1920s, female students outnumbered male students in the Faculty of Arts. This is also the period during which McGill yearbooks first began to be published. These yearbooks are one of the richest sources of information about student life at McGill, and an excellent companion to the McGilliana exhibition, representing everything from sports events to student theatre all the way back to 1898.

Image: Discus Throw Medal, 1903. McGill University Archives, MG 4319 (4319-07-020).


This period was one of great social tumult, from the Roaring 20s to the Depression, followed by the Second World War and the enormous cultural changes of the 1960s. The end of this period, in particular, saw an unprecedented level of student political engagement on campus. This included protest against the Vietnam War and South African Apartheid, advocacy for women’s rights, defense of the rights of the Quebec people, and educational campaigns related to anti-imperialist and anti-fascist movements across the globe.

Image: Afro-Asian Youth Movement ephemera, 1969. McGill University Archives, MG 4319 (4319-02-015).


Reflecting on more recent history, one can see the ways that the McGill community has built on the radical changes that happened in McGill’s past and the pathways they open to possible futures. One can reflect on the way that the 1960s and 70s promoted a culture of protest and political engagement on campus and see that the work of building a just and inclusive campus has only just begun. One can celebrate 137 years of women at McGill and acknowledge that our culture’s understanding of gender is becoming more fluid and that there is much more to be done to support the school’s and the city’s trans communities. It is possible to celebrate an expanding and diversifying student body while also committing to breaking down the remaining barriers to accessing education.

Image: Centennial of Women at McGill medal, 1984. McGill University Archives, MG 4319 (4319-07-045).

Explore the McGilliana: 200 Years of Student Life exhibition online.

A selection of exhibition items are on display in the McLennan Library Building Lobby until December 21, 2021. Current building access information here:

Further reading

Learn more about the McGill Bicentennial here.

Explore the McGill University Yearbooks

McGilliana : Regard sur le passé et penchant vers l’avenir, les œuvres les plus frappantes issues de 200 ans de vie étudiante

Par Aeron MacHattie, archiviste

Alors que la communauté de McGill commémore son bicentenaire, le moment est peut-être venu de repérer des jalons qui permettent de mesurer la croissance de McGill, et ce, tant pour souligner les victoires de notre communauté que pour cerner les volets qui nécessitent une croissance accrue et d’autres changements. Pour ce faire, on peut regarder par la lorgnette de la McGilliana : 200 ans de vie étudiante, diffusée en ligne. L’exposition recèle 200 articles regroupés sous dix volets thématiques : activisme, événements sociaux, arts, athlétisme, campus, collation des grades, études, loisirs, associations étudiantes et forces armées. Elle puise à même les fonds des Archives de l’Université McGill pour offrir des aperçus de la vie étudiante au fil des 200 ans d’histoire de McGill au moyen d’objets que les étudiants ont utilisés, et avec lesquels ils ont interagi, au quotidien. En voici certains retenus pour l’exposition, accompagnés de réflexions sur la période qu’ils représentent.


Avant de devenir le campus trépidant d’aujourd’hui, McGill s’attache d’abord et avant tout à la médecine. Ainsi, la Faculté de médecine, fraîchement établie, remet le premier diplôme au Canada dans cette discipline en 1833. Ce carton d’invitation à un cours d’anatomie pratique nous donne un aperçu du ton des premiers jours de McGill. Établie en 1843, la Faculté des arts précède la Faculté de droit qui voit le jour en 1848. Ces trois facultés constituent le cœur universitaire de McGill pendant encore 50 ans. À cette époque, le corps étudiant est relativement limité, exclusivement masculin et surtout riche et blanc. En 1848, William Wright devient la première personne de couleur à décrocher un diplôme en médecine au pays. Les femmes sont admises à McGill en qualité d’étudiantes en 1884.

Image: Carton d’admission à un cours pratique d’anatomie, 1853. Archives de l’Université McGill, MG 4319 (4319-02-042).


À la fin du XIXe et au début du XXe siècles, des changements importants ont lieu à McGill. Amorcée sous l’égide du principal, J.W. Dawson, cette ère voit l’Université prendre de l’expansion grâce à divers programmes : architecture, génie, physique, chimie et dentisterie, expansion qui se traduit également dans le nombre des étudiants. Dans les années 1920, le nombre d’étudiantes dépasse celui de leurs camarades masculins à la Faculté des arts. Et c’est la période où commence la publication des albums de finissants de McGill. Ces publications, qui figurent parmi les sources d’information les plus riches qui soient sur la vie étudiante à McGill, et dont l’éventail s’étend des activités sportives au théâtre pour remonter jusqu’à 1898, représentent le compagnon tout désigné de l’exposition McGilliana.

Image: Médaille du lancer du disque, 1903. Archives de l’Université McGill, MG 4319 (4319-07-020).


Cette période est marquée par de vastes tumultes sociaux, des années 1920 vrombissantes aux énormes bouleversements sociaux des années 1960, en passant par la Grande Dépression et la Seconde Guerre mondiale. La fin de cette période, notamment, voit un engagement politique étudiant sans précédent sur le campus qui a englobé les contestations de la guerre du Vietnam et de l’apartheid sud-africain, la défense des droits des femmes et ceux du peuple québécois, de même que des campagnes d’éducation contre les mouvements impérialistes et fascistes dans le monde entire.

Image: Document éphémère sur le mouvement afro-asiatique, 1969. Archives de l’Université McGill, MG 4319 (4319-02-015).


Plus près de nous, l’observateur peut constater que la communauté McGill table sur les changements radicaux du passé de l’Université et des voies que la mouvance ouvre sur un futur possible. Il peut réfléchir sur la manière dont les décennies 1960 et 1970 nourrissent une culture de contestation et d’engagements politiques sur le campus et constater que l’édification d’un campus juste et inclusif ne fait que commencer. Il peut aussi célébrer les 137 années de présence féminine à McGill, reconnaître que notre compréhension culturelle des genres gagne en souplesse et qu’il reste encore tant à faire pour épauler les communautés trans de l’Université et de la ville. On peut célébrer l’expansion et la diversification du corps étudiant tout en s’engageant à abattre les derniers obstacles à l’accès à l’éducation.

Image: Médaille commémorative du centenaire de la présenceféminine à McGill, 1984. Archives de l’Université McGill, MG 4319 (4319-07-045).

Vous pouvez explorer l’exposition McGilliana : 200 ans de vie étudiante ici même.

Une sélection des artéfacts de l’exposition se trouve dans le hall de la bibliothèque McLennan jusqu’au 21 décembre 2021.

Voici comment s’y rendre :

Lectures complémentaires

Renseignez-vous ici au sujet du bicentenaire de McGill.

Explorez les albums des finissants de l’Université McGill.

From Pen to Printing Press: Ten Centuries of Islamic Book Arts

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Tue, 11/16/2021 - 14:37

Is a permanent online exhibit*. This online exhibit is showcasing materials and tools of Islamic literate culture housed in Indiana University collections. It explores various categories of items including Pens, Inks, Modern calligraphies and Marbled papers, Persian and Mughal illustrated manuscripts, Miniature manuscripts and Scroll, Ottoman devotional works.

These various items/topics are presented in five main categories of Writing Implements and Materials, Manuscripts, Paintings and Illustrations, Miniature Manuscripts and Scrolls, Early Printed Books and Modern Revivals. Each category begins with a historical or background information on the topic and its various aspects and continues to introduce some of the significant sample/item in that category. Also, each item comes with detailed information regarding the physical description of the item, content, date and location.  

“This Arabic-Turkish dictionary is the first printed book from the Müteferrika press. This book includes as front matter many of the legal documents the publisher acquired in order to receive permission to produce his printed books. These legal documents have been reproduced as front matter in each copy of this particular book.”

Miniature Qur’an, 19th century, Iran. Available at Lilly Library, Adomeit Miniature Islamic Manuscripts C3.

This online exhibit has also dedicated a section called “Explore Manuscript” to six manuscripts specifically, in order to provide a visual overview of Islamic manuscripts, manuscripts illumination. Some of these six item are religious text some are literary work and they showcase artistic and thematic forms of Islamic book art traditions.

These selected manuscripts are consists of Shamshir Khani (Near Eastern mss Firdawsi Shahnama), Jami’s “Haft Awrang”, a Miniature Qur’an, an Illustrated Prayer Book (Duʿaname), Fragment of Kufic Quran and Qur’an (Juz’ 9 of 30) and their formal and decorative elements such as bindings, illuminated frontispieces, chapter headings, and illustrations have been highlighted.

A Mughal Nobleman

“This single folio painting, extracted from a manuscript or album, depicts a kneeling man in half-profile. The sitter is wearing a highly embroidered robe and bears a dagger upon which his right hand rests. The embroidered robe and ornamented dagger both help identify this person as a high ranking Mughal official. The sitter’s clothing and jewelry are rendered with great detail, as is the bowl and the fabric of the pillow. The background consists of a green hill with scattered trees and a grey cloudy sky. This portrait probably dates from the Jahangir (1605-27) period or the early Shah Jahan (1627-58) period. Jahangir period paintings are recognizable by their forest green backgrounds. Likewise, many albums were made which include the portraits of court officials.”

* “This permanent online exhibit is an adaptation of the Indiana University Art Museum special exhibition, From Pen to Printing Press: Ten Centuries of Islamic Book Arts on display March 7-May 10, 2009.”

Unsung Heroes of the McGill Library

Library Matters - Tue, 11/16/2021 - 09:40

As part of McGill’s Bicentennial Celebrations, faculties, central units, associations, and unions were asked to nominate Unsung Heroes in their department who have greatly helped shape the community. In addition to being featured on the University’s Unsung Heroes page, the Library’s Unsung Heroes will be added here as they’re announced. Their amazing work has a profound impact on the McGill community, past, present, and future!

Susan Fabrizi

Years of service: 2000 – present

In addition to performing her job at an exemplary level, Susan Fabrizi demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to the McGill Library community as well as to the general public. As the front line of the Dean’s Office, she quickly discerns visitors’ individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations or direction.

Susan is a wonderful ambassador for the University as a whole, assisting faculty, students and staff and warmly greeting visitors and guests. “If she did not exist we would try to invent her,” said one of Susan’s former supervisors.

Susan is the kind of person who gives to give. She receives calls daily from offices throughout the University, students, and parents who look to her experience and know-how for information and advice. She is helpful, caring, resourceful, and happy to offer service no matter the task.

Susan always stays upbeat, looks for positive outcomes or compromises in difficult circumstances, and focuses on the good. A senior manager from the Office of the Dean of Libraries described Susan in this way: “Over the last 7 years I have known Susan to be a fantastic teammate, always cheerful and exceptional in everything she does. Her quick wit, attention to detail, and loyalty to the library have endeared her to her colleagues.”

Francisco Oliva

Years of service: 2007 – present

Francisco has been a vital part of McGill University for close to 14 years, first in his role as Financial Administrator and now as the Senior Finance, Planning & Resources Manager for the libraries.

Bringing his international work experience and financial acumen to the table, he not only leads this crucial team but also manages the $40M library budget. Francisco takes a keen interest in running finances for all the library branches on both campuses, and for taking part in library renovations and mergers.

In 2019, he was a recipient of the Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff in the Team Category due to his leadership in the Osler Recovery Team after the McIntyre fire. Always keen to advance his skills, he is currently in the last phase of a doctoral (DBA) dissertation with the University of Liverpool in the UK, which focuses on the importance of investing in the professional development of university staff.

Christopher Lyons

Years of service: 2004 – present

Chris Lyons has been an integral part of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine for over a decade — joining as a Liaison Librarian in 2004 before being appointed as the library’s head in 2012. In December 2015, after a unanimous vote of endorsement by the Board of Curators, Chris received the prestigious title of Osler Librarian. In 2017, Chris was appointed the Head of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Chris’ enthusiasm, knowledge and appreciation of the materials and their beauty is infectious. With his help, the Osler Library and Rare Books and Special Collections have grown to be much more than simple collections of rare books and material. Over the years, Chris has initiated some of the most innovative digitization projects, including a collaboration with the United States National Library of Medicine and the Chesney Archives of Johns Hopkins University, to digitize material by and about William Osler for the National Library of Medicine’s “Profiles in Science” project. Chris’ tireless outreach efforts are paying off — McGill’s unique and rare collections are now being viewed by thousands of people each month and are a treasure trove to scholars, practitioners and students. 

Chris has also been instrumental in developing and managing numerous outreach projects that bring the international scholarly community to Osler, and now Rare Books. From the Dr. Dimitrije Pivnicki Award in Neuro-History to the Osler Library Travel Grant program, and most recently the Michelle Larose-Osler Library Artist-in-Residence Programme, Chris made it his mission to promote McGill as a world-class centre for the study of primary materials. Osler once said, “We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life.” Chris Lyons has embodied this motto from day one, adding a breadth of passion and experience, and breathing life into McGill’s unique treasures. 

Steven Spodek

Years of service: 2000 – present

To say that Steven Spodek is an unsung hero of the McGill Library is an understatement. Working predominately behind-the-scenes, he inspires confidence and trust in library supporters, donors and alumni with his warmth, generosity, and thoughtfulness. Like a juggler with multiple balls in the air, Steven never fails to remember a donor’s birthday or to send them links to articles or event listings that he thinks might be of interest.

Over the years, he has been instrumental in securing support for the library, which goes beyond the raising of funds. He is a champion of the organization in the truest sense of the word. Steven has also been integral to the organizing of three annual lectures hosted by the Friends of the Library, from securing funding, to helping coordinate speakers. Currently, he is working tirelessly to help Fiat Lux, the Library’s vision for the future, become a reality.

Not one for the spotlight, Steven takes pride in building long-term relationships with donors and nurturing them over the years. In short, his work touches all aspects of the McGill Library – from enhancing unparalleled rare collections, to creating dynamic new spaces and funding unique services and lively events.

April Colosimo

Years of service: 2006 – present

Since 2006, April Colosimo has served library users with expertise, enthusiasm and excellence. Her skill and dedication have made her one of the most sought-after leaders within the library landscape. One colleague describes April as “a resourceful, innovative thinker [who] constantly contributes to initiatives for new library services and the improvement of existing ones.”

From performing expert patent searches for McGill’s Office of Sponsored Research to founding a best paper competition for “CCOM 206 Communication in Engineering” students to being an active member of the inter-departmental team that developed the first MOOC at McGill, April inspires users to uncover unbeaten paths to discovery. Students, scholars, fellow staff members, online learners – they all respond with excitement and wonder, as well as appreciation.

Faculty are similarly appreciative – past initiatives including April’s work in partnering to spearhead the E-Science Institute @McGill effort, which involved developing a strategic agenda for e-research support, specifically in the sciences. In addition, as co-coordinator of the MyResearch graduate seminar series, April’s vision for information literacy has helped thousands of students navigate the worlds of scholarly publishing, concept mapping, citation metrics and more.

Steve Blaise

Years of service: 1980 – present

Steve Blaise is a true “Unsung Hero”. Steve has been serving the McGill community faithfully for almost 40 years in his role as Customer Service Coordinator in the McGill Humanities and Social Sciences Library. He started at McGill in 1980 as Shipping and Receiving Clerk, but his role has been much larger than the title implies. He is the first person in the library every day at 6:30 a.m., ensuring that the deliveries and workmen can gain access to the McLennan-Redpath complex, the busiest building on campus.

Steve quietly and efficiently provides facilities support. He is the “go-to” guy for all building issues, spots problems before they become big issues, manages the Canada Post, couriers and delivery personnel and ensures that material is picked up and delivered to exact rooms throughout the complex and the library system. He handles the day-to-day organization of all student and staff seating, ensuring that our students have a well-organized and pleasant environment in which to work. No job is too small or too large for him to tackle. Nothing is a problem. He is a gentleman and is truly dedicated to our staff and students. Without Steve in his role, quietly getting the job done, the Library would be a lesser place. 

Steve Blaise deserves to be recognized as one of McGill’s “Unsung Heroes”.

Open Access Agreement with Karger Publishing starting January 1, 2022

Library Matters - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 09:16

The Library is excited to announce an open access agreement with Karger Publishing. As of January 1, 2022, McGill corresponding authors submitting to Karger journals will have the option to make their work open access at no cost.  

Note the following exceptions however: 

Learn about McGill’s other open access agreements with Sage and the Company of Biologists.  

See also McGill’s list of article processing charge discounts.  

Wikilala: an Ottoman digital library & search engine

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 09:15

Started in 2019, Wikilala is a digital library making available and full-text searchable documents printed between 1729, when Ibrahim Müteferriqa founded the first Turkish printing Press and the letter revolution in 1928. The project was launched by Hiperlink‘s (first Turkish digital library) project manager, Sadi Özgür, and an academic member at the History Department of Istanbul Aydın University that acted as a consultant, Harun Tuncer.

Wikilala aims “to enable researchers and enthusiasts studying in almost all branches of science, such as culture, art, history, literature, architecture etc. to rediscover even the smallest details in order to illuminate a landscape that has been dimly lighted for two centuries. (…) Wikilala allows (…) to access this huge storage of knowledge.”

“About” page, Wikilala (URL:

According to the description on the “About” page, Wikilala includes thousands of books, magazines, journals, newspapers,etc. that have been digitized in high-resolution, catalogued, and OCR’ed (i.e. Optical Recognition Character) to allow for full-text searchability. The project also include the “latinization” of texts to allow people who don’t have command of Ottoman Turkish to search the texts in Latin script.

To access Wikilala materials, visitors need to create an account (which is free with an institutional email). Once logged-in, the entire library becomes available.

From the main page (captured above), users can search the library in Latin or Arabic scripts (thanks to a handy multilingual and multialphabets virtual keyboard), or pre-select the type of documents they want to search/read: Newspapers, Journals, Books, Manuscripts and Documents.

From the results page, users will be able to sort the list in the order they want (alphabetical, chronological, etc.) and/or refine the list using the filters available in the right-hand-side column.

There are two methods to open documents: clicking on the Read Now button at the bottom right of the item’s page, or scrolling down to the thumbnails view: both options will open Wikilala’s viewer. The viewer is limited to online reading and full-text search: unfortunately, it does not offer download, saving or printing options. Perhaps will this be a future development?

Wikilala is a free platform developed by a private company named hiperkitap, that works on numerous other products individuals and institutions can subscribe to or purchase. One can only hope the platform will keep growing and remain accessible for free in the future.

The interface is available in both Turkish and English.

Mystery on the Menu

Library Matters - Fri, 11/05/2021 - 16:01

By Kristen Howard

A team of students working under Nathalie Cooke, Associate Dean, McGill Library (Archives & Rare Collections) is attempting to unravel the mystery of an illustrated French picnic menu.

The menu portrays a couple in fashionable Regency-era clothing – him, a tailcoat and striped waistcoat with top hat, and her, an elaborate spotted yellow dress with full sleeves and matching hat with trimmings – who have travelled to a forest scene in a single horse and buggy. Their picnic basket is accompanied by a baguette, several bottles of wine, and a pug.

This menu is much more than it seems: although it seems to describe a “déjeuner sur l’herbe” in 1830, we soon realized this was not the case: the printing house indicated on the menu – Stern – did not open until 1834.

Édouard Manet’s famous painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe was not completed until 1863, after which the phrase became evocative. Is this menu and its comparatively modestly dressed female protagonist (indeed, she appears to be sporting a wimple) an allusion to the nude figure in Manet’s painting?

Finally, the menu’s artist, the French impressionist and modernist Henry Morin, whose signature can be seen under the horse and buggy, was born only in 1873. The menu must, therefore, have been created long after the 1830 date indicated in the text.

Detail, showing Morin’s signature on the Menu.

If we turn to the food items on the menu, we find even more to question: the courses are described curiously as prologue, résistance, and pour la fin, rather than the phrases we expect on a menu (e.g., potage, entrées, and entremets). There are certainly metaphorical aspects to food and drink items on this menu; for example, Chablis “de la bonne année”, “liqueur de Vespétro et de parfait amour”, and “beaucoup de bonne humeur”.

We think this curious menu may come from a fictional meal, perhaps well-known at the time that Morin was painting, or perhaps from the children’s magazine Mon Journal for which Morin was the main illustrator between 1897 and 1925. But to add to our confusion, the menu has been reprinted at least twice that we know of: first with artwork in F.G. Dumas’ Almanach des gourmands (1904)(see the image below), and again – but only the food items – in celebrated chef August Escoffier’s Le livre des menus (1912). In Dumas’ book, the menu is attributed to Philéas Gilbert, a French chef who worked with Escoffier on his famed Le guide culinaire (published 1903).

The same menu as it appears in F. G. Dumas’ Almanach des gourmands, (1904)

This menu, then, was well-known to some of the most famous chefs at the turn of the twentieth century, but remains mysterious to us. What we have yet to discover is if this menu was for an event (real or fictional), when it was created, or how widely known it was. Solving this mystery would certainly leave us avec beaucoup de bonne humeur – in high spirits!

Works cited

F.G.  (François Guillaume) Dumas, Almanach des gourmands. Fondé par Grimod de la Reynière en 1803. Continué sous la direction de F.-G. Dumas. (Paris: Librairie Nilsson, Per Lamm, successeur: London: Nilsson Co., 1904), p. 133. Digitized by Johnson & Wales University Library

Give us your feedback ! Find us a new image for the eScholarship open repository

Library Matters - Mon, 11/01/2021 - 08:45
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

The eScholarship open repository has been active since 2006. Although we have loved our dear St. Jerome, we are on the lookout for a new image.

Fill out our quick survey to give us your feedback.

Islamic Art at The David Collection

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Thu, 10/28/2021 - 09:55

The David Collection is a museum of fine and applied art in Copenhagen, Denmark, built around the private collections of lawyer, businessman and art collector C. L. David.

The museum is particularly noted for its collection of Islamic art one of the largest in Northern Europe. The collection of Islamic art contains works from almost the entire Islamic realm, from Spain in the West to India in the East and dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries.

Islamic Art Collection

The Islamic works of art are presented from three different perspectives: Islamic art organized chronologically and geographically, Islamic art grouped according to material, and Islamic art presented in its cultural context.

Dynasties and Geography

The works of art here are divided into 20 sections according to specific epochs and dynasties and according to different geographic regions. Each of the 20 sections provides a historical introduction, a map, a selection of works of art, coins, and architecture.

© THE DAVID COLLECTION. A selection of work of art from various dynasties and geographic locations.


The objects are categorized into eight different groups. This makes it possible to see how both stylistic features and techniques were developed within a specific medium both over time and across geographical borders.

Calligraphy / Miniature Painting / Ceramics / Glass / Stone and Stucco / Ivory, Wood, and Papier-mâché / Metalwork, / Weapons, and Jewelry / Textiles, Carpets, and Leather

© THE DAVID COLLECTION. A selection of work of art from various materials.

Cultural-history Themes

Focusing specifically on the cultural background for art in the Islamic world, this section illustrates fourteen themes of special relevance. Each theme is illustrated with a selected group of objects, accompanied by an explanatory text.

Islam, the Religion \The Five Pillars of Islam \ The Prophet Muhammad \ Mecca and the Kaaba \ Sunni and Shia \ The Mosque \ The Religious Prohibition Against Images \ Symbolism in Islamic Art \ Islam in China \ Sufis \ Dervishes, and Holy Men \ Trade, Measures, and Weights \Mechanics, Astronomy, and Astrology \ Medical Science \The Art of War

© THE DAVID COLLECTION. A selection of work of art from various themes.

The museum comprises another permanent collections. In addition to the Islamic Art, the Collection of European Art and the Collection of Danish Early Modern Art.

Fighting, Hunting, Impressing Arms and Armour from the Islamic World 1500 – 1850, is the current exhibition. The exhibit will be on display from From April 21, 2021 to January 2, 2022.

There are other links on The David Collection museum website that are worth exploring, suchlike: Calendar, David’s Bazaar, Education, Mostly for kids, History

Open Access Week 2021: Upcoming Workshops and Events

Library Matters - Wed, 10/20/2021 - 12:13

Next week is Open Access Week and the Library has put together a full suite of workshops on data and scholarly publishing:

  • The Future is Open: Becoming an Open Researcher  (registration)
  • Predatory publishing: What is it and how to avoid it  (registration)
  • Instructor Guide: Locating and using free and open materials for your course (registration)
  • Publishing Data with the McGill Dataverse  (registration)
  • ORCID-a-thon (registration)
  • Open Access Scholarly Books: Demystifying the Publishing Process  (registration)

MuslimARC (Anti Racism Collaborative)

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Fri, 10/15/2021 - 16:38

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is a human rights education organization attempting to raise awareness and provide training for Muslim communities about racial justice as well as Islamophobia and systemic racism. In an effort to address racism, MuslimARC provides and deliver education in the form of trainings or workshops on various forms of racism of internalized, interpersonal and institutional form.

“vision is Education for Liberation. We work to create spaces for learning and developing racial equity, connect people across multi-ethnic networks, and cultivate solutions for racial equity.”

MuslimARC objective is to give more voice to “four groups who are marginalized in the discourse on Islam in North America”

Black Muslims, recognizing the diverse experiences of the African Diaspora that includes descendants of victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the Americas, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinos, and African immigrants.

Latino Muslims, recognizing the diverse identities of people from Central and South America and Spanish-speaking former colonies.

Muslims who are Refugees, particularly from non-Arab countries such as Cham, Bosnian, Syrian, and Somali communities, who may not have access to the same resources as other groups.

Muslims from other underrepresented ethnic backgrounds in North American Muslim leadership, especially where those identities intersect with class identity

Providing critical resources to advance racial justice is part of their commitment, thus MuslimARC has provided a wide range of resources including articles, audiovisual recordings, toolkits, papers, research, khutbahs, reading lists, an anti-racism glossary, a directory of experts, etc.

Due to challenging and complex nature of Muslim anti-racism topic, a background knowledge is required to be able to make sense of the complex intersections of race, class, culture, language, religious identity, and gender. Therefore, MuslimARC presents a list of materials that will help to better understand “how race and racism is understood, the history of Muslim societies, in particular Muslim communities in the West, and common methods for anti-racism.”  

Moreover, the MuslimARC also has a weblog, reMARC, a platform for deeper reflection on the impact of race on shaping Muslim identities.

Primary Source Database Trials (Fall 2021)

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Sun, 10/03/2021 - 08:13

During the month of October (September 27th to October 27th), the Islamic Studies Library will be trialing several primary source (mainly newspapers and periodicals) databases that are of interest to anyone whose research focuses on Afghanistan, the Arab World in general and Egypt in particular, or Turkey. Please check below for content and access details.

  1. Afghan Central Press Digital Archive

The ‘Afghan Central Press’ collection brings together four national, Kabul-based publications of Afghanistan whose long runs and prominence provide a concentrated vantage point for understanding developments in Afghanistan for much of the twentieth century. The English-language Kabul Times is presented alongside Pushto publications Anis, Hewad, and Islah.Together, the archives of these newspapers provide a chronicle of events from the fall of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion, the rise of the Mujahedeen, the establishment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, invasion by the United States and the ensuing period of reconstruction from the view of the capital.

2. Al-Ahram Digital Archive

Founded in 1875, Al-Ahram (الأهرام‎, “The Pyramids”) is one of the longest-running newspapers in the Middle East. It has long been regarded as Egypt’s most authoritative and influential newspaper, and one of the most important newspapers in the Arab world, with a circulation of over 1 million. Prior to 1960, the newspaper was an independent publication and was renowned for its objectivity and independence. After being nationalized by President Nasser in 1960, Al-Ahram became the de facto voice of the Egyptian government and today the newspaper is managed by the Supreme Council of Press. Al-Ahram has featured writings by some of the most important political and literary voices of the day, including Nobel Literature Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, nationalist leaders Mustafa Kamil and Saad Zaghlul, as well as Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein, Yusuf Idris, Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi, and Anis Mansour.

The interface of ‘Al-Ahram’ is available in both English and Arabic.

3. Cumhuriyet Digital Archive

Established in May 1924, ‘Cumhuriyet’ (“The Republic”) is the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper and is widely considered one of the last remaining opposition newspapers in Turkey. Founded by journalist Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Cumhuriyet was the first newspaper of the Turkish Republic and promoted a belief in democracy, secularism and the rule of law. According to the newspaper’s editorial principles: Cumhuriyet is an independent newspaper; it is the defender of nothing but the Republic, of democracy in the scientific and broad sense. It will fight every force that tries to overthrow the Republic and the notion and principles of democracy. It will endeavor for the embracing by society of the principle of secularism along the path of “Enlightenment” ushered in by Atatürk’s revolution and principles. Over the last 95 years, Cumhuriyet has stood witness to the changing landscape of Turkey’s political, social and economic environment. Despite the challenges of these times, the institution of Cumhuriyet has sustained its coverage of domestic and international news, providing critical documentation of Turkey’s dynamic history and its relations with the global community. In the twenty-first century, Cumhuriyet continues its dedication to the principles of democracy and secularism as embodied by Atatürk. The newspaper has a daily circulation of over 30,000 and receives roughly 25 million visitors to its website each month. It is one of the most influential newspapers in Turkey and is regarded by domestic and foreign readers as a reliable source for impartial, intelligent news reporting.

The interface of ‘Cumhuriyet Digital Archive’ is available in both English and Turkish.

4. Kotobarabia Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers Collection

‘Kotobarabia: Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers’ is “a compendium of early works of an astounding variety of disciplines from important Arab writers, spanning fields from feminism and social theory, to classics of literature, history, and the sciences. Includes works by the Four Imams of the Sunni Sect, the Al Azhar Modern Sheikhs, various authors of the Modern Arab Enlightenment, and rare works by the former Egyptian royal family. Consisting mostly of historic texts, the books in this collection are full-image, with searchable metadata only.

The online reading interface is very similar for preriodicals and monographs. It allows to navigate easily within documents from the -left or right-hand side depending on the language of the interface- side menu. In addition, users will be able to read in full screen mode, select and copy a section to paste elsewehre, print, download as a PDF, email and cite. It is also possible to search for occurrences within publications: a virtual keyboard is available for those who don’t have non-roman scripts keyboards.

The trials started on Monday, September 27th, and will run until Wednesday, October 27th. These databases can be accessed either using the links provided in this blog post, or going to the A-Z database list (as shown below):

Please note access is based on IP addresses, and therefore limited to members of the McGill community. Also, note that activating the VPN may be required when/if you are off-campus. Check these databases out and let us know what you think!

75th anniversary of Viola Desmond challenging racial segregation

Law Library Blog - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 11:05

On November 1946, Viola Desmond, an African-Nova Scotian businesswoman, challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. After being forcibly removed from the theatre by police, arrested and charged, she refuses to accept the charges against her and takes her case to Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court, where she loses her appeal. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond challenging racial segregation, the Nahum Gelber Law Library presents an exhibition on her life and her struggle for rights in Canada. The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith. On display until December 2021.

The Near Eastern collection at The Royal Danish Library

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 15:52

The Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen is the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen. It is among the largest libraries in the world and the largest in the Nordic countries. The library’s collection of manuscripts date from the Middle Ages to the present. Some of these are available online and others can be viewed in the reading room.

Oriental Collection

The Oriental collection consists of manuscripts, printed works, and other material originating in non-western language areas and cultures, mostly Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. With a few exceptions, the works in the Oriental collection are written in non-western languages like Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Turkish.

Oriental digitized materials

Digital editions from the Oriental Collection are chosen for their beauty, rarity, calligraphy, bindings etc. The Near Eastern collection comprises 515 Arabic, 450 Iranian (43 are Avestan), and 100 Turkish manuscripts. The oldest items date from the 10th century C.E. (Qur’ân mss. in Kufi script). The numbers of printed books for lending in Near Eastern languages are: Arabic 5500,  Persian 1850, Turkish 5330, and Caucasian languages 600 (mainly Armenian and Georgian)

Digitized Arabic materials

Digitized Arabic materials fall under the following categories:

  • Qur’an and other religious texts
  • Shafi’i fiqh
  • Shi’a works
  • Linguistics 
  • Literature
  • History
  • Medicine and natural science
  • Magic
  • Printed books: literature
Digitized Persian materials
  • Manuscripts
  • Avesta and Pahlavi
  • Printed books 

The digital collection viewer provides full description of the manuscript and allows users to download, print, zoom in/out and share on Twitter and Facebook.

A recently published article by Dr. Eliza Tasbihi, Specialised Cataloguing Editor of Islamic Manuscripts at McGill Library

McGill Islamic Studies Library's blog - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 16:00

This blog post highlights a recently published article by our colleague, Dr. Eliza Tasbihi: “Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams”, in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society, 2021.

Eliza Tasbihi is a Specialised Cataloguing Editor of Islamic Manuscripts at McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections. She completed her M.A. in Islamic Studies from McGill University and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Concordia University. Her main areas of research are classical Islam, classical Persian literature, Ottoman studies and Ottoman Sufi literature, and Sufism and Sufi literature.

In her recent article, Tasbihi studies the Mystical knowledge of Heydar Amuli in his work the Text of the Text (Nass al-nusus) by highlighting his cosmographical diagrams, which she believes is the most important part of his work. She also explores the influence of Ibn Arabi’s thought upon Amuli, as well as areas where their doctrine differed.

The paper is divided into several sections with the first providing a brief biography of Amuli, who was a Shi’ite mystic and a Sufi philosopher from 14th century, followed by Ibn Arabi’s influence on Amuli’s thought and work.

The main section discusses the overall importance of circle shapes (dawai’r) in Islamic cosmology, with the application in cosmographical diagrams in Amuli’s work of Nass al-nusus. Here Tasbihi discusses the implication of circle shapes (dawai’r) in Amuli’s diagram as an indication of the “science of balance and its correspondence between the spiritual and corporeal worlds” and that dawair brings balance to the world. Tasbihi goes on to discuss how Amuli used circular forms not only to explain difficult esoteric concepts, but also to refer to specific theological topics in his work, such as prophethood, Imamhood, “spiritual friends of God” (awliya) and Prophet’s ascension.” She notes that, “the diagrams are employed as clear and efficient methods of presenting cosmological ideas”, in addition to the inter-relations that connect these diagrams.

diagram 9, the central small circles represent 7 prophets who are identified as ‘spiritual poles’ (aqṭāb, sing. quṭb), whose central figure is Muḥammad, the source of spiritual knowledge for the 6 other surrounding prophets..
Tasbihi, Eliza. (2021). Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams : Mystical Knowledge from Ḥaydar Āmulī’s (d.787/1385) Naṣṣ al-nuṣūṣ fī sharḥ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam. 69. 31-83.

Tasbihi consulted four manuscripts to study and clarify Amuli’s argument and details of the diagrams. Diagrams numbered 1, 7-11 are drawn from Amuli’s commentary on Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam. She also highlights Amuli’s interpretation of the presence of the number 19 represented by its sacredness and by its relation to the awliya. The number 19 is said to resemble the 19 letters of the basmala, which opens all but one Quranic Sura. Further, the number 19 is present within the awliya (the chain of prophets and their spiritual representatives/spiritual friends of God) consisting of 7 prophets and the 12 Imams who spiritually received divine knowledge. Amuli’s dedicates one diagram to the 12 Imams, which emphasizes how Amuli’s Shi’a doctrine influenced his understanding of Ibn Arabi’s Sunni text of the Fusus.

diagram 10 reflects Āmulī’s Shīʿa theology by demonstrating that only the heirs of the Prophet Muḥammad are the qualified awliyāʾ and through them alone is the line of mystical knowledge carried. Diagrams 10 ( Figure 4) and 11 ( Figure 5) demonstrate the correspondences that are affected between the 19 levels of cosmology and 19 levels of Imāmology and prophetology, each indicated by one of the 19 letters of the Basmala. In other words, the diagrams show the correspondences between the corporeal world…..
Tasbihi, Eliza. (2021). Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams : Mystical Knowledge from Ḥaydar Āmulī’s (d.787/1385) Naṣṣ al-nuṣūṣ fī sharḥ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam. 69. 31-83

Tasbihi summaries by arguing that, on the one hand Amuli’s thoughts were influenced by Ibn Arabi, as in his definition of the perfect man (Insan Kamil) and divine knowledge, and on the other hand Amuli borrowed Ibn Arabi’s cosmological concepts in order to develop his “esoteric-allegorical aspects of Shi’a theology”. Therefore, she concludes that Amuli’s Text of the Text (Nass al-nusus) is a Shi’a interpretation of Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam.

Access the Tasbihi’s article at McGill library here:

To know more about Dr. Eliza Tasbihi and her works please click here:

Ibn Arabi’s فصوص الحكم /‏ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam can be found here:


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