About the project

The collaboration between the Unit of Information Resources for Research, the Institute of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (Centre of Human and Social Sciences of the CSIC) and the School of Arabic Studies in Granada has given rise to this intramural project of the CSIC, which is co-directed by these research institutes and their respective libraries.

The Manuscript@CSIC portal is designed to computerize, digitize and make accessible all manuscript's collections existing at CSIC Libraries, which are written in a wide range of alphabets (including Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian etc). The initial stage of this process covers the CSIC collections of Arabic and Hebrew manuscripts.  

The Manuscript@CSIC portal provides access to codicological and catalographic descriptions of these manuscripts, as well as the complete text of each document. It also has advanced visualisation functions, making it an invaluable working tool for both national and international scientific communities.


One of the main objectives of the Institute of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the CSIC is to relate and integrate diverse areas of knowledge, overcoming conventional academic divisions in doing so, and to propose research projects that can interrelate research traditionally considered to be philological with the application of multiple analyses and techniques. The ultimate aim is to use an all-round approach that offers an innovative view of human sciences in general, and philological sciences in particular.

With these broad aims in mind, the main goal of the current project is to provide researchers with access to the collections of manuscripts in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish held in CSIC libraries via a gateway which incorporates their codicological data and digitised texts. Now that the Manuscript@CSIC project is under way, it will become possible to put into practice the ever-present idea at the ILC and EEA libraries of providing a complete and comprehensive treatment of their Hebrew, Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts. This will entail their cataloging, digitalization and dissemination and will result in the creation of a specialized portal that will provide experts with a new research tool. To this end, the following activities have been carried out:

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  • Cleaning, restoring and correct filing of the manuscripts.
  • Codicological description of all manuscripts.
  • Inclusion of manuscripts into the CSIC Union Catalogue. This has generated a MARC21 record and makes each manuscript visible by the implementation of OAI protocol.
  • Color digitalization and generation of METS-PREMIS metadata for the manuscripts, which are shown in more than 31,000 images.
  • Design of a gateway and consultation interface, a navigation system and visualising functions for the manuscripts.
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The resulting portal is now part of the websites of the CSIC libraries and participating CSIC institutes. Moreover, since it complies with current documentary standards, it can be integrated with both national and international supra-institutional projects.
The idea of carrying out an in-depth and comprehensive treatment of the manuscripts housed in the Library of the School of Arabic Studies and the Tomás Navarro Tomás Library of the Centre of Human and Social Sciences has been under consideration for several years. Now that the CSIC has approved this project, the initiative to undertake an overall analysis of manuscripts has been revived. This will involve performing all the tasks listed above; manuscripts will then be made available for public use through a specialised portal on the Internet.

This will also enable the School of Arabic Studies Library to fulfill its objectives and agenda as laid out in its strategic plan for 2010-2013, which commits it to promoting and fostering specific actions aimed at improving the preservation, restoration and reevaluation of its collections of manuscripts, which are representative of our bibliographic heritage and constitute irreplaceable research resources.

Some manuscripts have to be restored before they can be digitized. They will be included in the portal as soon as possible. At the moment, they have been inventoried and all corresponding information has been incorporated in CIRBIC-CSIC automated catalogues.