Monday, August 15, 2011

Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan

"The University of Michigan Library is in the final year of a three-year, grant-funded project to fully catalogue its Islamic Manuscripts Collection. Supported by a “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project, “Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan” has sought to engage established and emerging scholars by involving them in the cataloguing process – examination, description and generation of searchable metadata – for the collection of roughly 1,100 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish dating from the 8th to the 20th century CE.

The manuscripts are being digitized and made freely accessible through the HathiTrust Digital Library in order to facilitate the cataloguing work, which leverages a web-based “crowdsourcing” approach to generate rich and detailed descriptions addressing both material and textual characteristics. The efforts of project staff at the University of Michigan, led by project cataloguer Evyn Kropf, are thus supplemented by contributions from the wider scholarly community as colleagues interact with brief inventory descriptions and the digitized manuscripts via the project website ( )

As of now, 686 of the roughly 870 previously uncatalogued manuscripts have been fully or near fully catalogued. 134 of these are manuscripts for which digitization is not possible at this time.

We greatly appreciate your support for the project thus far, and would be especially grateful for any further contributions you could make to the cataloguing of the remaining manuscripts, including review of existing descriptive data where available.

Of the manuscripts remaining to be fully catalogued, most are from the following collections


F. E. Nuttall

Sulaiman Purchase

Stephen Spaulding


Cataloguing is also still underway for a number of fascinating manuscripts from the Abdul Hamid Collection including:

several calligraphy albums

a possible collection of declarations issued by certain grand viziers during the reign of Mehmet II

several majmūʻāt, not all previously identified as such, among them

and this “biographical work,” likely a collection of Ottoman chancery documents

Your expertise is an invaluable complement to our local cataloguing efforts. Treasures from the collection are being unearthed, and we appreciate your continued participation in the cataloguing endeavors.

We look forward to seeing your comments posted to the project site and thank you in advance for your valuable contribution to this project.

Please feel free to forward any questions, comments and/or suggestions to project staff at

All best,
Evyn Kropf

Evyn Kropf | Islamic Manuscripts Project Cataloguer
University Library Area Programs | M117B Hatcher Library North
The University of Michigan | Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-1220 |

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