About the Project

In December 2008, the University of Michigan Library was awarded a CLIR-sponsored, Mellon-funded “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant to support the "Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan" project.


One of only 13 selected in the grant program's inaugural award year, the four-year project adopted an iterative, synergistic approach to fully realize the electronic cataloguing of the Library's Islamic Manuscripts Collection. This approach leveraged the digital environment to gather descriptive contributions from two sources: a small, highly motivated crowd of emerging scholars at the University of Michigan, freshly trained in the fundamentals of Islamicate manuscript studies and led by the project cataloguer, and the larger, global crowd of scholars potentially capable of addressing the manuscript codices or their contents.

Under the supervision of the project cataloguer, this site facilitated the gathering of descriptive elements (otherwise lacking, unverified, or incomplete) from the latter crowd, by allowing commentary on the evolving manuscript descriptions informed via examination of digital surrogates in the HathiTrust Digital Library. The valuable contributions of these colleagues (chiefly addressing occasional bibliographic details and manuscript notes) supplemented the concurrent efforts of the project cataloguer and her staff, and are listed (as submitted) along with their names here and  acknowledged in the electronic catalogue records.

In only a few cases did the remote contributions address the description of a single manuscript in significant detail. All other descriptive contributions came by way of the project cataloguer and her staff, who were especially well-positioned to address codicological features and to take up the description of manuscripts which could not be digitized.

In the Press

>> An article on the project at AnnArbor.com (July 27 2009).
>>Collaboration in Cataloguing: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan by Evyn Kropf and Jonathan Rodgers, University of Michigan. MELA Notes, no. 82 (2009): 17-29.
>> An article about the project in Montage, an online magazine showcasing collaboration, creativity, and innovation in the arts at the University of Michigan (January 21 2011).
>> A mention of the project in Karen Smith-Yoshimura's Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Executive Summary (Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2012), p.17.

>> Kropf, Evyn. "Within the library catalogue and beyond: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan," presented at the COMSt workshop "The electronic revolution? The impact of the digital on cataloguing" held in Copenhagen, 7-8 June 2012.

>> A case study on the crowdsourcing aspect of the project: "Collaboration in Cataloging: Sourcing Knowledge From Near and Far for a Challenging Collection" by Evyn Kropf, University of Michigan. In Description: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections, Ed. Kate Theimer (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014): 99-114.