This blog post is part of a series for Explore Your Archive.
The British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership is a project to digitise half a million pages of archival and manuscript material relating to the Gulf that will result in an online portal that will present the collections in both English and Arabic. As part of that project I am part of a 13-strong cataloguing team working on material from the India Office Collections that document British Colonial influence in the Gulf region from the 18th to 20th centuries.
As a project archivist on such a large mass digitisation project we are working to very tight deadlines and having to tackle many difficult challenges and questions as they arise on a wide variety of issues, so interacting with colleagues is essential to ensure that our approaches to these issues are consistent and well-documented.
The cataloguing team for the project comprises of a mix of Archival specialists, Gulf History and Arabic Language specialists and Cataloguers. Communication between us as a team is vital in order to present the information contained within the records accurately. The breadth of the subjects discussed in the records means it is simply not possible to learn everything you might need to know about the history of the Gulf region as you go along in order to catalogue the records, so the depth of knowledge and experience of the Gulf History specialists has been essential in ensuring an accurate understanding of the records being catalogued. The frequent appearance of material in Arabic, Persian and other eastern languages, as well as the decision to present Arabic names and places using transliteration and diacritics, has made the Arabic language specialists a vital part of the cataloguing process too.