14 April 2021: Bibliotheca Arabica Webinar Hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study

Wednesday 14 April 6 PM CET Bibliotheca Arabica – A Digital Home for the Arabic Manuscript Tradition

The webinar, featuring Verena Klemm, Boris Liebrenz, and Thomas Efer, is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies (Near Eastern Studies).

Please register in advance  here

Arabic literatures are usually studied as purely creative products, a body of texts disembodied from their material life. Bibliotheca Arabica, in contrast, focusses on the context, the production, transmission, and reception of the manuscripts that for centuries carried the works we study today. Knowing what was copied, read, endowed, or owned when, where, and by whom, offers new perspectives on this immensely rich tradition. However, such a research agenda requires the collection, cross-reference, normalization, and visualization of widely diverse data created over more than one and a half millennia.
The long-term perspective of the Academy Program offers a unique environment to tackle such an ambitious task for an extended period. Over 18 years, the collection of data culled from biographical dictionaries, catalogues, and original manuscript research will enable sharply focused studies (the fate of single books or libraries) as well as broader overviews (literary trends and centers). The project’s database as a combination of bio-bibliography and manuscript reference, including a systematic collection and edition of manuscript notes, will provide a versatile tool not only for our own research agenda, but for the field as a whole.
This presentation will offer an overview of the scope, progress, and challenges of Bibliotheca Arabica, illuminated through exemplary case studies of libraries and marginal commentaries. It will showcase the database tools that are being developed as the backbone of our analytical endeavor.

19 March 2021: "Of Waqfs and Worms" Boris Liebrenz - Readings in the Khalidiyya

On Friday 19 March 2021 Boris Liebrenz gives a lecture at Columbia University within the series

Libraries in the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Bilad al-Sham:
The Jerusalem Khalidiyya Library in Context


The lecture "Of Waqfs and Worms: The Khalidiyya Through Its Manuscript Notes" is followed by a commentary by Marina Rustow and a Q&A session.
A recording of the talk is available through the facebook page of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University


24 November 2020: Nadine Löhr, Research Discussion "Networks of Lost Arabic Books"

Research Paper Discussion "Off the Record - Networks of Lost Arabic Books"

based on an analysis of the works mentioned in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa's History of Physicians.

Virtual Forum  Communities of Knowledge Interreligious Networks of Scholars in Ibn Abi Usaybiʿa’s History of the Physicians

Publications for the collective volume: Jews, Christans, and Muslims as Colleagues and Collaborators in the Abbasid Near East

8 October 2020: Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm, Keynote Lecture "Bibliotheca Arabica and Transottomanica"

Evening Lecture (5-7 pm) by Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm at the Opening Workshop of the 2nd project period of the DFG Priority Programme Transottomanica (2020-23), Leipzig.

The Transottomanica research programme can be found here

5 October 2020: "What's in a Seal" Boris Liebrenz on a Conference in Cairo

On Monday 5th October 2020, Boris Librenz gives insights into seals.

Maktabāt al-Shām wa Mir is hosting the conference "Libraries in Syria and Egypt in the Mamluk and Ottoman Periods based on Manuscript Notes", in cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin and The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts.

The conference recordng can be accessed via here:

Part 1

Part 2


25-26 February 2020: Digitization of Books and Manuscripts, Cairo

Daniel Kinitz and Boris Liebrenz presented Bibliotheca Arabica at the Egyptian-German workshop "Digitization of Books and Manuscripts" (رقمنة الكتب والمخطوطات) at the National Libarary of Egypt in Cairo.

Programme Dar al-Kutub Workshop (English)

Programme Dar al-Kutub Workshop (Arabic)

2 – 3 December 2019: Workshop on Marginal Commentaries, Leipzig

International workshop “Marginal commentaries in Arabic manuscripts”, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, organized by Stefanie Brinkmann



4 – 5 September 2019: Workshop Manuscripts in the Digital Environment, Leipzig

Workshop Arabic Manuscripts and Collaboration in the Digital Environment, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, organized by Boris Liebrenz

The Academy Project Bibliotheca Arabica is honored to host a number of leading specialists in the fields of Islamic manuscript studies, bibliography, and prosopography who focus on different aspects of this large tradition, but share a common devotion to the written heritage of the Islamicate world. Each one represents a project that explores a particular niche in that larger field, be it a certain corpus, a certain regional or sectarian background, or a certain type of source.


In practice, we are all confronted with unlimited ambition but limited resources. It is, therefore, desirable not to plough the same ground twice but rather to coordinate our efforts. This workshop aims at exploring how we can manage to benefit from each other’s respective specialized knowledge and at the same time retain distinct profiles. For Bibliotheca Arabica in particular, the workshop is meant to provide an opportunity for learning from the previous experience of our guests and to build our research infrastructure with the utmost compatibility in mind.

It is, thus, highly desirable to come to a common understanding of how and in what format to store the data we collect. Many projects have already developed their own idiosyncratic repositories, some are in the process of doing so, while others are teaming up with larger networks beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The following questions should guide our presentations and discussions: 

  • Which (manuscript or biographical) collections do we / will we work on?
  • What kind of metadata do we collect?
  • How do we normalize names, titles etc.?
  • How could our respective systems exchange data?
  • How can we integrate other project’s data and findings while giving full credit to their creators?
  • How do we deal with the question of sustainability and re-use?



  • Phasif – Philosophie Arabe et Syriaque en Île-de-France (Dr. Jawdath Jabbour, Ècole Normale Supérieure, Paris)
  • Onomasticon Arabicum (Prof. Christian Müller and Muriel Roiland, CNRS / IRHT, Paris)
  • Kalīla and Dimna - Wisdom Encoded (Prof. Beatrice Gründler, Freie Universität, Berlin)
  • Orient Digital (Christoph Rauch, Director of the Oriental Department, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)
  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Meier (Martin-Luther-University Halle / Saale)
  • Bibliotheca Arabica – Towards a New History of Arabic Literature

15 July 2019: Presentation at Joint Science Conference (GWK)

Project presentation by Daniel Kinitz to expert committee of the Joint Science Conference (, meeting this year at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig

28 June 2019: What Manuscripts Can Tell us on the History of Arabic Literature (Academy-Colloquium)

The team, headed by Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm, will present its work, methodology, and outlook. The project, which launched in 2018, is concerned with exploring and gathering data on the literary production in Arabic between the 12th and 19th centuries. With manuscripts as a central source of this endeavor, we can pose fascinating questions: What were the regional trajectories of texts and books during their transmission throughout the centuries? What do manuscripts tell us about their former owners and readers? What can they tell us about libraries that have since been lost? And what are the new perspectives on the history of Arabic literature that a digital Bibliotheca Arabica offers by combining data from manuscript notes, manuscript catalogues, and other sources?


Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm
“Bibliotheca Arabica – Von Büchern und Menschen (Bibliotheca Arabica - Of Books and Men)”

Dr. Boris Liebrenz
“Drei Jahrhunderte im Leben einer Handschrift: Das Unikum von Ibn Hazms ‘Halsband der Taube’ (Three Centuries in the Life of a Manuscript: The Unique MS of Ibn Hazm's 'Neck-Ring of the Dove')” 

Dr. Stefanie Brinkmann
“Islamische Traditionswerke: Metadaten und Randkommentare (Islamic Works on Prophetic Traditions: Metadata and Marginal Commentaries)”

Dr. Daniel Kinitz / Dr. Thomas Efer
“Auf dem Weg zu einer digitalen Bibliotheca Arabica (Towards a Digital Bibliotheca Arabica)”

There will be time for questions and discussions.

6 - 7 June 2019: Workshop “Glossing from a Comparative Perspective”, Marburg

International workshop “Glossing from a Comparative Perspective”, Marburg University
Paper presented by Stefanie Brinkmann: Marginal Commentaries in Hadith Manuscripts


8 May 2019: Visit of Egyptian Delegation

Visit of an Egyptian delegation to Leipzig University Library and the Bibliotheca Arabica Project, organized by Prof. Dr. A. Fuess (Marburg University) in cooperation with Bibliotheca Arabica and Leipzig University Library. Guests were: Prof. Dr. Hesham Azmi (Head of the Cultural Council, Chairman of the Egyptian National  Library and Archives, Dār al-Kutub wal-Waṯāʾiq), Prof. Dr. Atef Mansour (Dean of the Faculty of  Archaeology at Fayoum University, Chairman of the  German-Egyptian Islamic Numismatics Center Fayoum  University/ University of Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Muhammed Younis (Islamic Archaeology  Fayoum University).

24 April 2019: Project Presentation, Marburg University

Lecture by Boris Liebrenz: „Bibliotheca Arabica – Was Handschriften und über die arabische Literatur verraten”, Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien, Philipps Universität Marburg

1 April 2019: Workshop Damascene Libraries 19th Century, Beirut

Paper presented by Boris Liebrenz: “Aḍwā’ ǧadīda ʽalā maktabat al-ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al-Rabbāṭ (New Light on the Library of Aḥmad al-Rabbāṭ)” at the workshop Maktabāt Dimašq wa-tiǧārat al-kutub fīhā fī l-qarn al-tāsiʽ ʽašar (Damascene Libraries and the Book Trade in the 19th Century), Beirut, Orient-Institut Beirut in collaboration with Free University Berlin


25 – 29 March 2019: Workshop on Manuscript Notes, Scriptorium workshop series, Berlin

Boris Liebrenz was an instructor at the international workshop “Codicological and Paleographical Aspects of Islamic Manuscripts, with a Special Focus on Manuscript Notes” within the Scriptorium workshop series at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, organized with al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, London


22 – 23 February 2019: Workshop Ḥadīth Manuscripts, Hamburg

International Workshop ”Prophetic Traditions Materialised: Dimensions of Ḥadīth Manuscripts”, Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC Hamburg), organised within the scope of the A11-project at the CSMC by Stefanie Brinkmann and Ali Zaherinezhad, with the support of the Bibliotheca Arabica Project

Paper presented by Stefanie Brinkmann: Two Bukhārī Manuscripts from Timurid Shiraz – Marginal Commentaries


30 January 2019: Invited lecture by Prof. Dr. Maribel Fierro, Madrid

Invited lecture by Prof. Dr. Maribel Fierro, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid: “The Medieval Islamic West in the East, intellectual connections and cultural impact – The project AMOI”

22 January 2019: Bibliography Week, Columbia University, New York

Keynote lecture given by Boris Liebrenz: “Bibliotheca Arabica: The Past and Future of Arabic Bibliography”, Columbia University, New York City, Bibliography Week, organized with the Grolier Club

20 – 21 December 2018: Congress “The Maghrib in the Mashriq”, Madrid

Project Presentation by Verena Klemm “Presentation of the Project Bibliotheca Arabica”, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid


13 – 14 December 2018: Colloqium Digital Islamicate Humanities, Amsterdam

Project Presentation by Daniel Kinitz at the Academy Colloqium „Wither Digital Islamicate Humanities“, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam

10 – 11 December 2018: Conference “Theory and Practices of Commentary”, Frankfurt

International Conference “Theory and Practices of Commentary”, Goethe Universität Frankfurt a.M. , paper presented by Stefanie Brinkmann: “Marginal Commentaries in Hadith Manuscripts”


6 – 7 December 2018: Conference "Connected Past 2018 - People, Networks and Complexity in Archaeology and History"

Poster presentation with short talk on "Uncovering Networks within 700 years of material textual culture in the Arabic world" held by Thomas Efer


23 – 29 September 2018: Summerschool Islamic Manuscripts, Leipzig

Summerschool on Islamic Manuscripts: Zweiter Alfried-Krupp Sommerkurs für Islamische Handschriftenkultur in Leipzig 2018, Leipzig University Library
Organised by Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm (Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University), the Bibliotheca Arabica team, and Leipzig University Library; instructors: Cornelius Berthold, Stefanie Brinkmann, Claudia Colini, Boris Liebrenz, Helga Rebhan, Beate Wiesmüller


10 – 14 September 2018: Conference Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Münster

Project Presentation Verena Klemm: "Bibliotheca Arabica. Towards a new history of Arabic Literatures" at the 29th Conference of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Münster


10 – 11 September 2018: Workshop "Text-as-Graph" of the DHd working group on graph technologies

Contributions on graph schema integration and on text data and metadata modeling by Thomas Efer


8 September 2018: Symposium on Ottoman-Era Manuscript Libraries, Istanbul

Symposium “New Research on Ottoman-Era Manuscript Libraries”, Orient-Institute Istanbul,organised by Stefanie Brinkmann and Boris Liebrenz in cooperation with the Orient-Institute Istanbul and The Islamic Manuscript Association (Cambridge, UK).
Paper presented by Boris Liebrenz: “Exploring the roots of Ottoman libraries: A case study of the Fazil Ahmet Pasha Manuscripts and the Bibliotheca Arabica Project”

A Medieval Muslim Scholar’s Legacy. Ibn Ṭāwūs and the Afterlife of his Library

“A Medieval Muslim Scholar’s Legacy. Ibn Ṭāwūs and the Afterlife of His Library”, in: Boris Liebrenz (ed.): “The History of Books and Collections through Manuscript Notes”, (Leiden: Brill, 2018), S. 218-224.

This article presents an endowment note as the only surviving material trace from thefamous library of the Shiʿite scholar ʿAlī b. Mūsā Ibn Ṭāwūs (589/1193–664/1266). Thisnote ofers new insights into the books he possessed and adds clarity about the legalframework under which it was passed on to Ibn Ṭāwūs’ descendants. The article alsotraces the further history of this manuscript through Damascus to Istanbul and dis-cusses strategies for tracking these notes, which were often willfully destroyed.

16 August 2018: Work Session on Marginal Commentaries, Leipzig

One-day Work Session on Marginal Commentaries & Glosses in Manuscripts, organised by Stefanie Brinkmann, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig
Participants: Paul Babinski (Princeton University), Stefanie Brinkmann (SAW Leipzig), Boris Liebrenz (SAW Leipzig), Christian Mauder (University of Leipzig, Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies: Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities), Darya Ogorodnikova (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg University (Islamic Manuscripts with a Wide Spaced Layout as Mediators of Teaching Practices in West Africa), Walid Saleh (University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion & Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations), Ronny Vollandt (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), Ali Zaherinezhad (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg University (The Leipzig Manuscript B. or. 227: Paratexts as witnesses of Islamic Ḥadīṯ scholarship)

9 August 2018: "Fachtag Digital Humanities in Thüringen"

Project Presentation by Thomas Efer at the Thuringian Digital Humanities Day in Gotha, organized by  the research group "Netzwerk für digitale Geisteswissenschaften und Citizen Science" of the University of Erfurt, together with the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association and the DHnet Jena


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Immer noch Geheimsache? Sprechen über die Wismut heute 29.04.2021 18:00 - 19:30 — Live aus dem Studio B der Hochschule Mittweida
„Make Law Not War“: Der jüdische Jurist Benjamin B. Ferencz 28.05.2021 16:00 - 17:30 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig und im Livestream
Internationale Tagung: Friedrich Christian von Sachsen (1722–1763): Thronfolger und Förderer der Künste 03.06.2021 - 05.06.2021 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig