Thursday, March 22, 2007
The origins of this library lie in the former manuscript holdings of the Iraqi Museum Library, which were started in 1940, and subsequently became a prime national repository for manuscripts, growing from a total of about 4,000 in 1968 to about 38,000 in 1988. In that year, following the example of the former British Museum Library in London, ownership was transferred to a separate library institution, the Saddam Manuscripts Library. This occupied a group of houses in central Baghdad, near the Museum, and its holdings by 2003 have been variously estimated at about 50,000 (Deeb, Albin and Haley) and about 70,000 (Metenier). This rapid expansion resulted from the incorporation of numerous private and smaller institutional collections throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Numerous catalogues of the manuscripts were published, both before and after the transfer from the Museum; they are listed, with a brief survey of the holdings up to 1992, in the Iraq sections of al-Furqān Foundation’s World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (written by Dr Naqshabandi himself).