Istanbul

Given the significant number of manuscripts collections located in Istanbul I have created this page separately from the Turkey page to provide more specific information to those conducting manuscript research in the Istanbul.

Süleymaniye Kutuphanesi
Located in the old city on the European side of Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Library sits directly across from the Süleymaniye Mosque. The library is in fact occupies one of the old madrasa buildings that comprised the Süleymaniye kulliyet. Before arriving to conduct business it is recommended that researchers fill out and submit a research application with the library beforehand. Otherwise, visitors to the library hoping to obtain manuscripts should do so upon arrival.

Before entering the library visitors will handover their ID (typically a passport for foreigners) to the guards in the office at the entrance. In exchange you are given a locker key. After entering the Süleymaniye building, visitors are then asked to turn left into the security office were the lockers are kept. All bags are to be kept in the lockers. Laptops, papers, and books, however, can be brought into the reading room.

The reading room has a number of desks and computers. At each computer you can serach the Süleymaniye’s manuscript collection. Searches can be conducted in Turkish, English, Arabic, and a number of other languages. Most of the manuscripts listed in the catalog have been digitized and can be viewed directly on the computers as a PDF. These PDFs, of course, can not be saved directly, but can be purchased. If a work is only one text among many in a manuscript, you will need to find the record of the first text (usually) in that manuscript in order to bring up the digitized file for viewing. To do this if is important to note the name of the specific collection and the accession number of the work.

If you are interested in purchasing digital copies of any of these manuscripts, a form is available at the front of the reading room where a staff member is usually seated. You will need to fill out the form with your information and the title, author, collection and accession number of the desired mansucripts along with the specific pages (one can request the entire manuscript). When writing down your desired page numbers, ignore the folio pagination and instead write down the page numbers in the PDF you are viewing. The rate, is under 1 Turkish Lira per folio page (around .75 or .6 if I recall correctly in January 2012). Up to eight manuscripts can be requested per form. When completed the form must then be reviewed and signed by the director. This may entail tea and pleasant company.  Afterwards a staff member will generate the CD with you sitting nearby to verify the texts and pages. During this process you will also be asked to as well, which I have always doen with cash. You will either pay the staff member generating the CD or a bursar seated in an adjacent office.  If a receipt is needed (for reimbursement purposes), make that clear though you may need to wait until the bursar is in the office.

Hacı Selim Aǧa Kutuphanesi
The Hacı Selim Aǧa Library is housed in a small building in Üsküdar on the Asian Side. The library consists of a single reading room with several tables. The collection can be searched via the computer catalogue found at the Süleymaniye Library, where scanned manuscripts can also be viewed and obtained at the Süleymaniye. One can also search the the card catalog and lists found at the Hacı Selim Aǧa Library. The director, who offers lessons on Ottoman Turkish, is usually in on weekdays and speaks Turkish and Arabic.  The original manuscripts held at the Hacı Selim Aǧa Library can be inspected upon request.  A slip from the request book must be filled out and submitted in order to view and handle any of the manuscripts there.

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