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Special Collections

Manuscripts

On May 14th, 2002, the Lebanese Maronite Order (OLM) decided to relocate all the manuscripts of the OLM monasteries, about 30 monastic libraries in total, to the Library of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), to be gathered in one collection. This huge collection is known today as the OLM Collection. Moreover, there are some other private collections which have been donated to the Library to be preserved and digitized for scholarly studies.

Mission

The Mission of the USEK Manuscripts Department is to present new historical source materials which may play a vital role in Lebanese historical studies. By facilitating access to the original manuscripts, scholars and students are encouraged to access the manuscripts they need to complete their scholarly research.

Contents of Manuscripts

There are approximately 2,000 manuscripts, handwritten in Syriac, Arabic, Latin, and Greek. They cover a wide variety of topics, such as theology (including many liturgical Maronite texts), Islam, philosophy, Syriac and Arabic grammar, literature, astronomy, and history. Many of these manuscripts are translations from Latin to Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac letters), and some are unique like OLM 263, which is claimed to be the oldest Maronite Syriac Liturgical textbook for the Palm Sunday Office of Readings, copied at Qozhaya Monastery in 1493.

This collection also provides valuable pieces of information about Lebanese heritage and historiography; many of these Maronite manuscripts contain unique remarks recorded by Lebanese manuscripts copyists, which convey rare historical and local events.

The Project

Although the work is still in progress, a comprehensive database for the content and digital online samples of these manuscripts is being created; however, for the time being, a checklist can be accessed at the USEK main library.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, or need help, please contact us.

Steps for Cataloguing and Preservation:
1. Providing a full codicological description of the manuscripts
2. Preserving the manuscripts for their cultural and historical value
3. Digitizing the manuscripts for long term preservation
4. Adding a descriptive record and image to the digital library

Availability and orders:

To order a print or digital copy of the manuscript (or a part of the manuscript), visit Reprography Services.
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