Evyn Kropf

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M117B Hatcher North
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
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Librarian for Middle Eastern & North African Studies and Religious Studies; Curator, Islamic Manuscripts Collection


As librarian for Middle Eastern & North African Studies and Religious Studies, I provide research and collection support for scholarship related to the languages and cultures of the Middle East (Southwest Asia) and North Africa with an emphasis on Islamicate studies and manuscript studies (production and circulation), as well as for scholarship related to the multidisciplinary study of religion. As curator, I also assist with research and instruction related to the Library’s Islamic Manuscripts Collection, including description, locating manuscripts of interest, viewing sessions, and exhibits. 

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in arranging an instruction / viewing session for your class or group incorporating Islamic manuscripts. Sessions may be tailored to suit your themes and learning objectives and may include hands-on exercises for deeper engagement with the material. Past sessions have addressed: sacred texts of Near Eastern religions, introduction to Islamic manuscript culture, introduction to Ottoman manuscript culture, Qur'anic transcription, illumination and illustration in Islamic manuscripts, depictions of Jerusalem in Islamic manuscripts, Ottoman-era manuscript miscellanies, handling and working with Islamic manuscripts as historical sources, and fuller, multi-session introductions to Islamic codicology and palaeography, among other topics. 


I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2003) and my master’s degree in Information Science with a specialization in Library and Information Services from the University of Michigan (2009), where I also completed coursework in Arabic historiography and directed readings in classical Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. The foundations for my scholarly interest in the manuscript culture of the Islamic world were laid during the years I lived and studied the Arabic language in Amman, Jordan, and I have since trained in manuscript studies and book structures with Adam Gacek and Julia Miller.

As cataloguer for the Library’s "Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan" project (2009-2012), I led the descriptive effort which realized the detailed cataloguing of 904 codex manuscripts from the Library’s Islamic Manuscripts Collection, characterizing not only their contents (text, paratext and visual content) through transcription, notes and headings, but also their form while addressing the script and hand, structure (composition of gatherings, sewing, and cover), dimensions, writing surface, layout and other physical aspects. Particular attention was given to the evidence for the history of the manuscript as attested in manuscript notes and in changes to structure through addition or repair.

My research interests include Islamic codicology and manuscript culture with a focus on bookmaking (specifically writing material and structural repairs), reading and collecting practices, as well as the use of pictograms and other visual content in Sufistic cultures of knowledge transmission, manuscript cataloguing and digital mediation of cultural heritage.