Serious excitement – copies of British Library Arabic manuscripts for less than $1?

In the NASCAS forum a poster mentioned:

Speaking of manuscripts, friends, I wanted to let you know that the Bibliothica Alexandrina has the WHOLE Arabic collection of manuscripts held at the British Library. One can obtain a digital copy for only 5 (yes five) Egyptian Pounds, i.e., 90 US cents!

Now this is very, very exciting news.  And I have an idea how this might be so.  I believe some Arab princeling paid for all the Arabic mss in UK libraries to be photographed for microfiche.  But I have never known where to access this material.  Perhaps this is the source of this.

I’ve enquired of the poster how I can get these.  I have written before that there is a manuscript of the 13th century Arabic Christian historian al-Makin (BL or.  7564) which I want.  Indeed I even ordered a microfilm copy from the BL; who sent me, at a huge price, just the second half!

If the report is true, this is very good news.  It might apply to other libraries than the BL, such as the Bodleian.  Today I also heard that the Bodleian tried to screw a scholar from Leiden who wanted a photocopy of a dissertation, and demanded 150 GBP (around $220) for a photocopy.  This hateful monopoly must be overthrown; no scholarship can happen while access to the primary texts is subject to blackmail of this kind.

Let us hope and pray this is so, and that a torrent of copies is about to be unleashed on the scholarly world!

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