Iqbal Cyber Library www.iqbalcyberlibrary.net is an online library offering e-books in a number of languages on a variety of subjects, but, mainly on Allama Iqbal and his related fields. The site is being managed by the IT Section of the Iqbal Academy Pakistan and is being updated on regular basis.
Year 2002, coinciding with 125th birthday of Allama Iqbal was declared as “Iqbal Year” by the Government of Pakistan. Iqbal Academy Pakistan was declared as Executing Agency. The proposals for celebrations of the year were invited through advertisement in print and electronic media. Among the proposals received from different quarters, the development of first online Urdu Library named “Iqbal Cyber Library” (ICL) was proposed by Mr. Qasim Shahzad.
Originally inspired from Project Gutenberg, the idea was development of a digital library offering online reading facility of books on Iqbal studies, Literature (including fictions, poetry etc.) and other Urdu classics in Urdu Language only. Due to bandwidth issues at that time (2002) the cost of offering download facility was very high. The main idea was: if composing/digitalization of a book costs Rs. 10,000/-, and the same is read by 10,000 readers, the cost per book will become Rs. 1/- per person. It was the time when Unicode version 4.0 was yet to be arrived, thus all Urdu characters were not available in the standard. It was suggested that images of the pages shall be stored instead of text. The proposal, after getting approval of the Executive Committee of the Iqbal Acdemy Pakistan was presented before the Ministry of Minorities, Culture, Sports, Tourism & Youth Affairs, Government of Pakistan who requested the Federal Cabinet to approve:-
9.4- Iqbal Cyber Library
The Academy shall plan, host and inaugurate cyber library that would cater for electronic books on Iqbal and, possibly, on other allied subjects. (IAP)
Subsequently the Iqbal Academy entered into an agreement with Mr. Qasim Shahzad for development of the ICL. The project was inaugurated by the President of Pakistan on April 21, 2003 on the eve of culminating ceremony of the Iqbal Year. The ICL was finally launched by the Governor of the Punjab on January 1, 2004.
Started with 20 books, till December 31, 2013 (10 years), the site offered online reading of 750 books in Urdu Language only.
The idea of revamp of the ICL was conceived by Muhammad Numan Chishti, System Analyst, Iqbal Academy Pakistan. The main features of the idea were:-
The ICL should look like a physical library, but, in digital form. Thus, it should offer browse options like any other physical library.
What MUST be in the ICL
Works of Iqbal i.e. Books where contributor is "Sir Muhammad Iqbal", these books include (a) All publications of Allama Iqbal including small books published containing only one poem and published for charity programs of Hamiyat-e-Islam as well as books edited by him like Urdu course books; (b) Translations of works of Iqbal; (c) Interpretation/Abridged versions of works of Iqbal.
Allama Iqbal Personal Library i.e. The Books that were available with Allama Iqbal at the time of his demise and were donated to Islamia College Lahore as per his will.
Books consulted by Iqbal i.e. books referred in works of Iqbal but not included in his Personal Library.
Publications of Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
What SHOULD be in ICL
Works on Iqbal.
Works of those who inspired Iqbal like Wordsworth, Dagh Dehlvi etc. but not included in the above categories.
Works related to the fields he was interested in i.e. Islamic Studies, Philosophy, History, Sociology, Comparative Religion, Literature, Art and Archeology.
Since Allama Iqbal is viewed as the Poet-Philosopher of Universal Reconstruction, he is not specific to Urdu, his works are in English and Persian too and have been translated in almost all major languages of the world, the ICL should offer multilingual content.
The ICL should offer download facility to the readers, preferably in Portable Document Format (PDF).
As much as possible, the ICL should offer data in Unicode text format.
After approval of the proposal and the white-label website by Mr. Muhammad Suheyl Umar, the then, Director, Iqbal Academy Pakistan the work was started in the IT Section of the Iqbal Academy Pakistan as in-house project. The Analysis is done by Muhammad Numan Chishti, System Analyst, the design is implemented by Mr. Muhammad Irfan Tariq, Software Engineer. Mr. Faisal Waheed, Webmaster contributed towards User Interface. Mr. Muhammad Usman Akbar and Mr. Muhammad Ejaz Saleem digitalized books for it and finally, Mr. Fahim Arshad, Network Administrator tested the entire work before uploading on November 9, 2014.