Digital database for manuscripts

Until last year, most of the Mingana Collection was catalogued but in hard-copy form only, and some of it needed improving.

Mingana Collection Development Officer Josefine Frank has been working to enhance the manuscripts for inclusion in Fihrist, a searchable catalogue that provides electronic access to more than 15,000 basic descriptions of Islamic manuscripts in the holdings of 12 UK libraries.

Records are created using a TEI/XML schema that provides an extensible framework allowing for future enhancements, including detailed descriptions and digital representations of the manuscripts.

The database developed as part of a collaborative project between Oxford and Cambridge University libraries and was launched in 2011. The CRL has been contributing to it since 2014.

Fihrist, which means index or catalogue in Arabic, aims to become a union catalogue for manuscripts in Arabic script, with continuing contributions from partner institutions including the British Library, the Wellcome Trust and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Commenting on the impact of Fihrist, Josefine says: ‘The online catalogue has improved accessibility of the Mingana Collection for the academic community and increased international interest from researchers in the Middle East and further afield, including Malaysia and the United States.’