Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Online Cataloging and Digitization for Islamic Manuscripts - RBSC Princeton University

Posting from the blog of Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

"Cat­a­loging is now avail­able online for most of the nearly 10,000 Islamic man­u­scripts in the Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. These extra­or­di­nary hold­ings of Islamic man­u­scripts con­sti­tute the pre­mier col­lec­tion of Islamic man­u­scripts in the West­ern Hemi­sphere and among the finest in the world. About two-thirds of these were the gift of Robert Gar­rett, Class of 1897. The online records have been cre­ated as part of the Islamic Man­u­scripts Cat­a­loging and Dig­i­ti­za­tion Project, to improve access to these rich col­lec­tions and share them world­wide through dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. Gen­er­ous sup­port from the David A. Gard­ner ’69 Magic Project has funded this ongo­ing effort. Researchers can now locate man­u­scripts by search­ing the Library’s online cat­a­log. The Library has dig­i­tized 200 man­u­scripts in the Prince­ton Dig­i­tal Library of Islamic Man­u­scripts.

Over the past two years, the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library has cre­ated online biblio­graphic records cov­er­ing its col­lec­tions of Ara­bic man­u­scripts in the Gar­rett and New Series. These had pre­vi­ously been only described in three printed cat­a­logs: Descrip­tive Cat­a­log of the Gar­rett Col­lec­tion of Ara­bic Man­u­scripts in the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library (P. K. Hitti, N. A. Faris, and B. ‘Abd al-Malik), Cat­a­logue of Ara­bic Man­u­scripts (Yahuda Sec­tion) in the Gar­rett Col­lec­tion (R. Mach), and Han­dlist of Ara­bic Man­u­scripts (New Series) in the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library (R. Mach and E. Ormsby). Over two-thirds of the Library’s some 10,000 vol­umes of Islamic man­u­scripts are described in these cat­a­logs. The cat­a­logs were con­verted to XML for­mat, and the result­ing files were then edited for accu­racy and consistency—they now have autho­rized names, prop­erly roman­ized titles, and appro­pri­ate sub­ject head­ings. The files were then imported into the Library’s online cat­a­log. Still under­way is an effort to link records that describe multi-text volumes.

The Third Series, com­pris­ing over 750 vol­umes in Ara­bic, Per­sian, Ottoman Turk­ish, Urdu, and Jawi, has been com­pletely cat­a­loged, and a find­ing aid has been cre­ated for the William McEl­wee Miller Col­lec­tion of Bābī Writ­ings and Other Iran­ian Texts, 1846–1923, com­prised of 47 vol­umes of writ­ings of the Bāb, Subḥ-i Azal, and Bahá’u’lláh, and their respec­tive fol­low­ers. The col­lec­tion also includes Sufi texts and an anti-Islamic polemic writ­ings. The Miller col­lec­tion has been dig­i­tized, largely from micro­film, and is being made avail­able online by the Library as a ser­vice to schol­ar­ship. File sizes are large (30–590 MB) and may take some time to download.

For more infor­ma­tion about the cat­a­loging, con­tact Denise L. Soufi, Islamic Man­u­scripts Cat­a­loger, at; for infor­ma­tion about the over­all project, con­tact Don C. Ske­mer, Cura­tor of Man­u­scripts, at"

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