Akmal Bazarbaev

Photograph of Akmal Bazarbaev

Akmal Bazarbaev undertook a one-year Chevening Fellowship project at the British Library entitled 'Exploring and enhancing the British Library’s Turkic-language collections'. The project focused on making Turkic periodicals more accessible for researchers in the UK and around the world.

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The British Library is a unique institution that gathers research and source materials in one place.

My project aimed to enhance the Turkic-language collections in the British Library. I attempted to make Turkic printed items more accessible to researchers. I worked on Turkic and Turkish periodicals published in the 1920-30s. The periodicals are published in Turkish and Turkic languages in Arabic and Latin scripts. At the same time, the authors used Arabic, Persian and Russian words widely together with Turkic ones. I believe that this linguistic diversity creates special challenges for researchers who want to consult these fascinating materials.

To solve these problems and to make these items more searchable through the Library’s catalogue, I created a spreadsheet organising the metadata of the numerous articles within the Turkic-language periodicals that are held by the Library. This spreadsheet covers each article in each of the periodicals. I added information such as authors, romanized and original script titles of articles and publications, published years, issues, pages, and subjects. This allows much more detail to be added to the online catalogue than had hitherto been possible.

Each historical source has its own history of origin and this relates to the historical process and the specific context of the time, place and circumstances in which it was produced. For this reason, analysis of source materials does not just help us to understand and interpret the source itself, but it also allows us to explore the historical process in a certain place and time. In the case of these Turkic periodicals, issues such as language, subject, and ownership are a key point of reference in the study of the history of the region. I am hoping that classifying each article in these periodicals helps us to distinguish their different features, whilst at the same time contextualizing them as part of a whole collection.

I am interested in investigating sources related to the Turkic world. The British Library is a unique place to do this as it is an institution that gathers research and sources in one place. Working at the British Library has given me a good opportunity to develop my skills in the sphere of historical source studies. I have also gained great practical experience in exploring and cataloguing periodicals. 

An example of my research for this fellowship can be found on the Library’s Asian and African Studies Blog.

Key points

  • The project focused on making Turkic-language periodicals in the British Library more accessible by providing more information about each article within the different publications.
  • Akmal created a spreadsheet of new metadata about these articles, which will be incorporated into the Library’s online catalogue.
  • He also demonstrated the advantages and benefits to researchers of classifying each article in this way, through talks, a blog post and engagement with the UK academic community.


Chevening British Library Fellowships

Year-long professional development projects for emerging global leaders

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