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Manuscripts Collection

In May 14th, 2002 the Lebanese Maronite Order (OLM) decided to move 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 big collection is known today as the OLM Collection. Moreover, there are some other private collections which have been donated to this library in order to be preserved and made accessible for scholarly studies.

Contents of Manuscripts
The number of these manuscripts reaches 2,125 copies, handwritten in Syriac, Arabic, Latin, and Greek. They cover various topics such as: Theology (including many liturgical Maronite texts), Islam, Philosophy, Syriac and Arabic Grammar, Literature, Astronomy, and History. Many of these books are translations from Latin to Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac letters), and some are unique like OLM 263, which is purported to be the oldest Maronite Syriac Liturgical textbook for the Palm Sunday Office of Readings, copied at Qozhaya Monastery in 1493.

Mission and Goals
The Mission of the USEK Manuscripts Department is to facilitate access to the original manuscripts so that users can complete their scholarly research. Scholars and students are encouraged to access the manuscripts they need for their academic studies. 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, some checklists can be accessed at the USEK main library.

Our project includes three main divisions: conservation, digitization and cataloging. Our aim is to prepare academic printed catalogues in addition to a full electronic database.

Moreover, this project provides valuable pieces of information about the Lebanese heritage and historiography; many of these Maronite manuscripts contain unique remarks recorded by Lebanese manuscripts copyists, which convey rare historical and local events. It was almost impossible to know these historical pieces of information since most of these manuscripts were not accessible. The final goal of this project is to present new historical source materials which may play a vital role in the Lebanese historical studies.

Availability and orders:
Please click here for a list of manuscripts available in USEK Library.
Please click here to order a manuscript.