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Digital surrogate preservations of manuscripts and Iranian heritage: enhancing research

Karl Madden (Charles Evans Inniss Memorial Library, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA)
Leili Seifi (Department of Studies in Library and Information Science, University of Mysore‐Manasagangothri, Mysore, India)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide a general review and historical context for digitization and interdisciplinary research involving digital surrogates of historical Persian manuscripts in the National Library and Archives of Iran and similarly engaged institutions.


The paper explores interdisciplinary aspects of Persian art, poetry, science, and philosophy, as revealed in the scrutiny of digitized manuscripts. It explores the enhancement of Persian, Iranian and Islamic cultural heritage research. It discusses benefits and concerns in conceptual contexts of library and information science literature. It references some manuscript digitization projects involving Islamic heritage, including the HARAM online manuscript service of the National Library and Archives of Iran (NLAI). It addresses issues of availability and access in global contexts.


Manuscript digitization, placed in the context of interdisciplinary research, reveals modern correlations to the interdisciplinary nature of ancient Persian arts and sciences — and to the purpose of digitization — as appropriate to an historical continuum of Persian written literacy and traditional Islamic cultural heritage.

Practical implications

For future contexts of digital global research, research involving many interrelated fields will benefit from use of digital manuscript surrogates. Institutional cooperation will be necessary. The physical conservation of fragile materials also benefits. Historical contexts should be observed, and preserved with the materials.


This paper shows that interdisciplinary research in international universities, libraries, museums, archives, government agencies, and other public institutions uniquely benefits from access to digitized manuscripts. It provides contexts for solving problems of physical manuscript decay and destruction.



Madden, K. and Seifi, L. (2011), "Digital surrogate preservations of manuscripts and Iranian heritage: enhancing research", New Library World, Vol. 112 No. 9/10, pp. 452-465.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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