Ochanomizu University
HEMMI Yukiko
The Toyo Bunko, Branch of the National Diet Library

Preface (by NAGATA Yuzo)
I . Objective, Method and Timing of the Survey
II. Result of the Survey
A. Situation of the Collections
B. Possibilities of future collections
C. Why the Collection Was Started (check all applicable answers)
D. Types and Volume of the Material
E. Cataloguing
F. Reasons Why the Collections Are Not Catalogued
G. Methods of Arrangement and Catalogue
H. Access of Collected Materials
I. Concerning Original Language Materials of the Islamic Area
J. Guidelines and Seminars
III. Concluding Statement


The major tasks for "Source Materials for the Study of Islamic Civilization", Research Unit 6 (Research Unit leader: NAGATA Yuzo, Meiji University) of the Islamic Area Studies Project (1997- 2002), commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, based at the Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library) are to collect basic source materials written in original languages by the people in the Islamic area, and at the same time, to establish a working library network.

Original materials written in the original languages by the people in the Islamic area include those written in Arabic, or mostly in non-Roman characters. Therefore in the past, it has been difficult to use library cataloguing systems in an integrated manner because library cards and records have been made using different transliteration systems. Recently, it has become possible to use other writing systems including Arabic characters on the computer. Through bibliographic information databases and the development of a system for conducting online searches using the Internet, in the future we hope that research organizations and libraries which have materials on the Islamic area will be linked, to assist in the collection and retrieval of materials.

In 1997, the first year of the Research project, as a preparation devoted to the networking, it became necessary to grasp the actual situation of original materials written in original languages by the people in the Islamic area in libraries and research institutes throughout Japan. From July through December, 1997, a survey based on questionnaires were conducted. We received 271 replies from the respective institutions, allowing us to grasp what materials they have and cataloguing procedures up to this point.

This report is a tabulation of the questionnaires and analysis of the results.

The tabulation and analysis of the questionnaire results were conducted mainly by MIURA Toru (Ochanomizu University, Associate Professor) and HEMMI Yukiko (The Toyo Bunko, Branch of the National Diet Library), while FUKAMI Kazuko (Toyo Bunko Part-time employee), MATSUNUMA Motoko and SAITO Kumiko (Ochanomizu University Graduate Students) assisted the survey.

We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank those respective institutions and researchers for assisting in replying to the questionnaires, and hope this survey concerning the collecting, cataloguing process and use will be beneficial to those cooperative institutions.

March, 1998

Islamic Area Studies, Research Unit 6
Source Materials for the Study of Islamic Civilization
Unit Leader: NAGATA Yuzo

I . Objective, Method and Timing of the Survey

Arabic and other original languages materials of the Islamic area has been collected over the years by a limited number of universities and research institutes. But, in Japan, with gradual heightening of interest in this area led to an increased number of researchers, and expanded curriculum in this field. In relation, more libraries now have collections of materials in original languages of the Islamic area. But, there are only insufficient information as to which institution and how much they have, while an actual overview survey has not been reported.

The purpose of this survey is to grasp an overview as to how many materials on Islamic area are collected, now being collected, how they are catalogued and utilized.

This survey was conducted with the source materials written in the following languages mainly used by Muslims. Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, other Turkic languages (Azerbaijan, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Tatar, Turkmen, Uzbek, Uyghur and others), Urdu, Dali, Indonesian and Malay.

As for those materials in African languages, not included in the Toyo Bunko collection were omitted from this survey. Moreover, the majority of the Chinese materials are not related to the Islamic area studies, and these materials were omitted from this survey.

The survey was conducted by mailing questionnaires. The institutions selected in this survey were chosen according to the "Libraries in Japan: Statistics and Lists, 1996" (Japan Library Association), focusing on 4-year universities of over 10,000 volumes of materials in Western languages, selected faculty libraries, and research institutes affiliated to universities, excluding science and engineering colleges, and home economics colleges. Furthermore, specialized institutions related to the field of Islamic area studies were also included.

The questionnaires were formulated in June, 1997, and mailed by the end of July. The deadline was set for the end of September, at which time 212 institutions replied, but some institutions obviously thought to be holding related materials, which did not reply were inquired again.


II. Result of the Survey

Questionnaires were sent out to a total of 440 institutions, and a total of 271 institutions replied. In terms of percentage, 61.6% of the institutions replied. The following is the result of the survey questions.

A. Situation of the Collections

We asked whether the institution held any original language materials related to the Islamic area regardless of whether the materials were open or closed to the public, and catalogued or not.

There were 10 institutions which replied as "held in other department(s)", but out of those 10 institutions, four replied that materials were held in other department(s) as well as their own institution. So, in this section, "held only in other department(s) were tabulated and mentioned here.
The figure in italics indicate the percentage of the total questionnaires mailed. Even if the institutions which did not reply are tabulated as non-holders, approximately 20% of the institutions have materials related to Islamic area studies. Perhaps due to the extensive research of those institutions definitely holding materials, it still seemed the percentage of institutions holding materials were unexpectedly higher than we had initially anticipated.
As to those institutions which replied as "others", we received answers such as "absolutely no idea" and "yes we have related materials", but they were not necessarily materials written in the original languages by the people in the Islamic area.

B. Possibilities of future collections

To those institutions which replied "no" in section A, we asked whether they had any plans of possibly collecting materials in the future.

More than half of the institutions are willing to consider starting a collection of materials if there is a demand, while there were university libraries which replied "definitely no" although they have related lecture courses in their academic curriculum. Of those which replied "if requirements are met", the requirements or conditions are if the materials can be conveniently collected, if staff with knowledge of various languages can be procured, or when the environment to manage the materials mechanically can be achieved.

There is one additional response in this section due to the inclusion of the institution that replied "others" in section A.

C. Why the Collection Was Started (check all applicable answers)

We asked those institutions which replied "yes" to possessing a collection the reason why collection was started.

Those multiple answers are indicated in italic characters, while figures in italics are those of single answers. Considering the multiple answers, those replied as "requested by teaching staff" outnumber the rest. Of those which replied as "policy of the library", half of those were research institutions affiliated to universities and specialized research institutions.

Those institutions which replied "materials were donated" held large collections, while those that replied as "requested by teaching staff" and "policy of the library" simultaneously, and those institution which answered merely as "materials were donated", were the ones with smaller collections. These are the two trends we found.

Those institutions that replied as "others", held collection which began when new departments were established, and/or those materials included in the recently purchased new series.

D. Types and Volume of the Material

To those institutions which replied as possessing a collection, we further inquired the type and volume of the material. Listed below are total volumes (total, approximate) collected according to the different types of material.

Books (volume, title) Periodicals (title)


Microfilm (reel, case) Manuscripts (number)


These numbers are merely approximate figures. Depending on the institution, there were distinctive differences in what materials are considered as vernacular materials (for instance are dictionaries and grammar texts included), or the units used in tabulating the volumes. Moreover, detailed figures could not be obtained since the inquires were requested during the middle of the fiscal year. Therefore, in this section, the replies stating the figure of titles were interpreted as volumes, and it's safe to consider those as the minimum figures. The institutions which did not indicate detailed volume figures are given in total figures, so the total should be more than the figures indicated here.

Very few institutions possessed source materials such as microfilms and manuscripts, and the results indicate that majority of the such collections were held by a few specific institutions.

The other source materials indicated in these tables are maps and CD-ROMs.

The table below indicates the number of institutions according to the size of their collection of books, which is the largest group of source materials.

Of the institutions with source materials, approximately half of them possess a small collection of less than 50 volumes (half of those have a collection of less than 10 volumes). This trend is seen regardless of the differences in language.

In terms of language differences, Arabic and Persian materials are most commonly found in institutions. As a result of this survey, we are now able to grasp the previously unknown volumes of original materials written in the original languages by people in the Islamic area possessed by the various institutions.

E. Cataloguing

We made further inquires on cataloguing procedures to those institutions which replied as possessing a collection.

There were multiple answers according to different languages which is the reason as to why the total numbers exceeds 100. The most common reply was that a "portion of the collection" had been catalogued, in which either half or two thirds of the collection has been already catalogued. But as to the institutions with newly established departments and those with related lecture courses, only about 10% replied as their collection being arranged or catalogued.

We anticipated that cataloguing process would be sluggish due to character problems, and partially to stockpiling, but the results indicate approximately 80% of the institutions have already done some cataloguing of their collections.

Some institutions replied that a "catalogue draft or simplified list of materials" have been completed, which are generally institutions that purchased a large collection at once. Of the institutions which replied "none so far", half of them are small collections and the other half are those with some possessions.

F. Reasons Why the Collections Are Not Catalogued

Further inquiry was made to those institutions which answered "none so far", or that a "catalogue draft, simplified list of materials" has been completed, in terms of why the collection is yet to be catalogued.
The major obstacles lies in language and personnel as in "difficulties with language (character) and procuring personnel" knowledgeable in this field, and access to computer facilities as seen in difficulties in processing "specialized characters".

Furthermore, some institutions replied as having the staff but lack of "time, and financial difficulties", as the reason to why the collections are not completely catalogued.

G. Methods of Arrangement and Catalogue

a. Arrangement methods

We asked what methods are used in arranging the materials to those institutions which replied that "most of the collection", and "portion of the collection" has been catalogued.

a-1. Characters

At university libraries transliteration has been used the most. Moreover, at libraries with small collections, measures such as using parallel title in Western language or Japanese for arrangement exemplifies the hardship in the cataloguing process of materials.

Research institutions affiliated to universities and specialized institutions, in many cases, catalogue their materials according to the original language. There were some institutions which catalogued materials in different characters for description and heading.

As for modern Turkish and Indonesian which uses the Roman alphabet, original languages are used for cataloguing, therefore the percentage further increases for Arabic source materials using the transliteration system. The primary systems of transliteration are LC (Library of Congress) and NCR (Nippon Catalogue Regulations), but there were numerous institutions which only replied "by romanization and alphabetization", without designating its transliteration system. Thus we can see that transliteration systems vary.

a-2. Cataloguing regulations

Nearly three-fourths of the institutions either used or relied on the AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Edition) format to catalogue their materials. Moreover, there are institutions which used their own format to catalogue the materials. Whether using a standard format or an original method are basically dependent on the arrangement and cataloguing policies of the library, which handle the materials as western publication, rather than the problem of original language materials of the Islamic area.

a-3. Classification

Although there are differences in the editions, NDC (Nippon Decimal Classification) system is used by most institutions. For numerous research institutions affiliated to universities and specialized institutions, it seems classification regulations already in use are not detailed enough, thus they use original classification methods useful for research.

a-4. The Stacks

The method in presenting this question was not proper, which in turn resulted in insufficient replies. Whether the institution used an open stack/closed stack system had nothing to do with language differences, but rather depends more or less on subject matters and user's demand, as well as being swayed by the library facility and reading room policies.

Concerning how the materials are classified or allotted, most university libraries have arranged the original materials related to the Islamic area with the Western materials, while research institutions affiliated to universities and specialized institutions with large collections seemed to arrange their materials according to different languages.

a-5. Cataloguing Staff

The overall process of cataloguing of materials in most cases are conducted by the library staff, but most transliteration are done by research departments, teaching staff, and part-time staff with related specialization.

a-6. Cataloguing of Original Language Materials of the Islamic Area

The survey asked institutions to respond freely on the cataloguing circumstances of original language materials of the Islamic area. We received many responses which respective institutions "could not procure staff who had knowledge of original languages", so the "cataloguing process was slow", or "we asked teaching staff in related departments or students to handle the transliteration, or had them done through the assistance of outside employees".

Also, there were many institutions which used the "data obtained from NACSIS and Library of Congress MARC" and "used Western parallel titles" in cataloguing their materials.
At institutions where original language was used for cataloguing, attempts with computers were made to illustrate the characters.

b. Catalogue

To those institutions which replied that their materials have "already been catalogued" or "partially catalogued" in section E, we made further inquiry concerning the catalogue currently being compiled.

Booklets were produced by institutions with a certain amount of materials or with special collections, but others catalogued materials of the Islamic area together with Western language materials in the library catalogue.

Probably due to many institutions transliterating the materials in original language to romanizing, OPAC was being installed by numerous institutions. (transliteration system was rather used to input the data with other materials for OPAC.)

H. Access of Collected Materials

Of those institutions which replied "yes" as to holding original language materials, our survey further asked whether the original language materials are accessible to outsiders.

Over 90% of the institutions allow visitors to access their materials, including those which responded that their materials are "open to public with restrictions". The main reasons for those institutions which replied "closed to public", were either the collection was not arranged at all, catalogued, or due to materials being located in other departments.

H'. User Services (multiple answers if applicable)

Then the survey inquired what services are being provided for visitors to those institutions, which replied that their collections are "open to the public" or "open to the public with restrictions".

Reading privileges and photocopying services are most prevalent in the framework of general use. Reference is not provided by many institutions and requires users to search and specify the needed materials. Those institutions which specified "others", in this case is dealt in the same manner as other materials.

I. Concerning Original Language Materials of the Islamic Area

Concerning the original language materials of the Islamic area, other than the condition of the collections as well as arrangement methods, we further asked for comments at will in a specific column; which 40 institutions responded with numerous valuable opinions. The collated results are the following.

Collecting materials

Various institutions replied as to "acquisitions are entrusted to the teaching staff", "selections are entrusted to the bookstore", "only the donated materials will increase", while others have collected in original countries of publication, and some institutions acknowledged that it has reached the proper time on the sole purpose of enlarging its holdings to build a respectable collection.


Most of the libraries do not have library staff specialized in Islamic area studies, thus they are dependent on teaching staff and part-time personnel for arrangement of materials. Furthermore, they lack proper and reliable guidelines which can be used as manuals. These are some of the problems institutions are currently encountering. There are institutions which "invited librarians as researchers from corresponding the Islamic area".

Computerization, Database compilation

It's been said that "treatment of Arabic characters and other special languages on the computer is difficult, while the NACSIS or to register them on the OPAC used on campus requires proper transliteration. Still, even for such transliteration, the method is not uniformly standardized, and some voiced their opinion as to have the NACSIS develop a standardized method of transliteration.

There are institutions which devised a database on the image from a card catalogue of the original language.

Search, Use and Reference
Even at institutions with large collections, search methods for materials are not properly and fully developed. Some others replied that "since the library stacks are open to the users, there is no problem in searching and retrieving materials".

Three institutions responded that the "facility was seldom used", which were those with small collections. Those institutions with large catalogued collections, and with related departments and lecture courses, should later be surveyed on the conditions of the materials used.

Even when catalogues are compiled with the assistance of teaching staff, "library staff lack proper background knowledge of the content of the materials making reference difficult", such circumstance makes request from distant locations difficult for use, as seen in some institutions.

Mutual Cooperation

We received comments from institutions with small collections and those encountering difficulties in acquiring library staffs, on the "necessity to develop an online database system from one key institute" further to be "linked up with other institutes, and for the specialized experts to take a leadership role to standardize the arrangement and cataloguing methods of original language materials to ease the process of catalogue compilation".

From the institutions with large collections and having specialized staff standing-by, we received such opinions as "cataloguing should be standardized, necessity to exchange information to compile a bibliography, and to make general use possible."

J. Guidelines and Seminars

The questionnaire further asked whether guidelines or seminars are necessary to clarify cataloguing procedure of the original language materials of the Islamic area.

a. Guidelines

b. Seminars

Overall, the demand for a guideline was high regardless of whether or not the institution had any collected materials, or in terms of the size of the collection. As for seminars, it would be safe to say that the majority of the institutions would think about this when the time arises.

Those institutions which replied the guidelines and seminars are "not necessary" were those with small or no holdings of materials related to Islamic studies.


III. Concluding Statement

Honestly speaking, it was unexpected to find out that approximately 20 % of university libraries (excluding schools for science and engineering) and specialized institutions nation wide to possess collections of original language materials of the Islamic area, which is still considered to be "special" by many. (Excluding specialized institutions, 20.4 % of university libraries and research institutes affiliated with universities have collections or holdings). At the same time, some institutions even with specialized teaching staff, or lecture courses in the related field, have neither holdings nor any future plans of starting a collection seems to portray the actual situation as well.

The majority of the responses dwelled on the difficulties encountered by the institutions such as anywhere from collecting the materials, understanding the language used in the collected materials, to even those where they might have a staff who understands the language, but facing the problems with computerization which awaits the staff. Moreover, lack of standardized transliteration system leads to difficulties in search and use.

From the user's standpoint, if catalogues are compiled according to the alphabet of the original language, and if computer search can be used will be the most desirable system. Actually, it is possible to construct a computerized database by using the non-Latin alphabet.

But, for those libraries not being able to procure a specialized staff, and asking them to install a system just for a small number of collected source materials is unrealistic. Rather than leaving the materials uncatalogued and in disarray, it would be better to transliterating them as Western materials and registering the materials according to NACSIS or the campus OPAC system; which is the most popular and efficient cataloguing method currently in use.

In doing so, a common transliteration system should be developed, also by allowing the users to understand that the present transliteration system has variations should be extremely beneficial not only in the process of compiling a catalogue, as well as in search and reference.

On the other hand, major institutions with large collections became the core in setting up an online database for materials written in the alphabet of the original language. Not only does this system used for catalogue compilation and reference assist researchers, but it would be ideal if those institutions without any materials or small collections can use this system as well.

In this survey, in order to obtain the most accurate and detailed figure of collected materials in each and every institution, when we did not receive a reply from a library, with the assistance of researchers, collaborators and others involved in this project were used to gather information. As a result, we have the information on the total figure and statistics of collected materials of the libraries, but not on the process of cataloguing the materials and accessibility.

Moreover since we received a reply from Gunma Prefectural library, the sole public library, it was included in this survey, but we are sure other public libraries have collections related to Islamic area studies. This survey was to include all the collections nation wide but needless to say, it is not comprehensive.

We wish this survey will be a starting point to link those institutions which possess original materials written in the original languages by people in the Islamic area, promoting the exchange of information and the materials to be used widely.

Some institutions sent us related materials such as catalogues. Furthermore, institutions without any collections related to the Islamic area provided us with kind words in saying our survey is worthwhile. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the institutions which cooperated with this survey.


Language codes used in this report are the following.

  • ARA Arabic
  • AZE Azerbaijan
  • HE Hebrew
  • IND Indonesian
  • KAZ Kazahk
  • KIR Kirghiz
  • KUR Kurdish
  • MAY Malay
  • PER Persian
  • TAR Tatar
  • TUR Turkish
  • OTO Ottoman Turkish
  • TUR2 Turkic languages
  • TUK Turkmen
  • UIG Uygur
  • URD Urdu
  • UZB Uzbek