Subject librarian

Level 1: Introduction to the University Library

(in the Autumn semester)
For first-semester students
Introduction to the subject website and the University Library’s services as well as searching in the catalogue, with exercises. Optional tour through the open stacks, reading rooms and Information Centre.

Further training sessions of the library

Level 2: Databases - searching for information

(in the Spring semester)
For advanced students (after at least one semester course in Arabic)
Introduction to transliteration problems with searching in the catalogue and in subject-specific databases.


Thur 1st June 2023, 14.15-15.45 hUB Basel, 2nd floor (Schulungsraum)

Einführung in fachspezifische Datenbanken

Claudia Bolliger

Course Wolfgang Trimmel


Islamic Studies

Calendar conversion program (Oriental Department, University of Zurich)
Islam and Islamic Studies Resources (University of Georgia)
Middle East & Islamic Studies Resources (Columbia University, New York)
Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon,1863 (dictionary)
Steingass: Persian-English Dictionary (dictionary)
Islamic Philosophy Online (Philosophia Islamica)
Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
AMIR (Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources)
AMIR (Open Access Historical Newspapers and other Periodicals)
Mamluk Studies Resources (MEDOC, University of Chicago)
Online Bibliography of Ottoman-Turkish Literature (English)
Online Bibliography of Ottoman-Turkish Literatur (Turkish)
International Quranic Studies Association
Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran (Digital Archive)


MENALIB (Middle East Virtual Library)
MENAdoc Digital Collections (ULB Halle, Fachinformationsdienst Nahost-, Nordafrika- und Islamstudien)
Virtual catalogue Middle East, North Africa (ULB Halle, Fachinformationsdienst Nahost-, Nordafrika- und Islamstudien)


Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts (Princeton University Library)
Virtual Manuscript Room (University of Birmingham)
Manuscript catalogue (Oriental Department, Freiburg i. Brsg.)
Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online (Wellcome Library, London)
Minassian Collection of Quranic Manuscripts (Brown Digital Repository)
Chroniques du Manuscrit au Yémen (CEFAS)
Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan (University of Michigan Library)

Text Corpora

Koran Online (
Arabic and Persian literature (Digital Book Index, translations)
Sirat Bani Hilal Digital Archive (University of California, Santa Barbara)


Middle East Maps (University of Texas at Austin)

Islamic Art

Abegg-Stiftung (Riggisberg near Bern)
Museum Rietberg (Zurich)
MANAZIR Platform for Visual Arts & Architecture (SGMOIK)
Institut du monde arabe (Paris)
Museum with no Frontiers (MWNF): Discover Islamic Art
The Shahnama Project (Princeton University)
stambouline (Hazine)
Islamic Painted Page (University of Hamburg)

University Library general holdings

Primary literature:

  • collection of important source texts
  • translations of standard works
  • translations of modern Arabic, Persian and Turkish literature

Secondary literature:

  • lexicons, dictionaries, historical reference works, bibliographies, manuscript catalogues
  • overall presentations of Arabic, Persian and Turkish literature and language history
  • works on religion, mysticism and philosophy
  • selected literature on intellectual and religious developments in individual countries
  • selected literature on the history of the entire Islamic world and especially the Ottoman Empire
  • journals (religion, culture, language, literature)

University Library special collections

see Manuscripts and bequests, Orient photography, Bibliotheca Indica

Libraries with additional holdings

Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel:

  • selected research literature on focus topics
  • teaching material for the Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages
  • modern literature in the original languages

Oriental manuscripts

The collection comprises around 700 Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts. The Arabic manuscripts are published in a printed catalogue:
Die Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Basel. Arabische Handschriften. Unter der Leitung von Gregor Schoeler beschrieben von Gudrun Schubert und Renate Würsch. Vorarbeiten von Fritz Meier, Gertrud Spiess, Hedwig Djeddikar. Basel 2001

Bequests of Orientalists

Access to manuscripts and bequests in swisscollections

Early prints

  • early translations of the Koran into European languages
  • European first prints of Arabic and Persian scripts
  • Oriental first prints of Arabic, Persian and Turkish writings

Access to early prints in swisscovery Basel 



In bequests

•    Alfred Sarasin-Iselin (1865-1953), swisscollections signature: NL 231 and Bibliotheca Indica (see below)
•    Samuel Flury (1874-1935), swisscollections signature: NL 166
•    Wilhelm Sarasin-His (1882-1950), swisscollections signature: NL 232:U
•    Rudolf Tschudi (1884-1960), swisscollections signature: NL 287:U

Rudolf Tschudi‘s bequest contains 480 Oriental photographs from the second half of the 19th century. This includes the over 140 Oriental photographs of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel, which were originally part of the same collection. The bequest of Wilhelm Sarasin-His contains 65 photographs. All are catalogued in swisscollections. In 2018 they were digitised and uploaded to

In other collections

•    Collection of views  Franz Eduard La Roche (1847-1912)
•    Photo album Vues de Brousse
•    Photo album Landschaftsveduten von Palästina
•    Photo album Palästina & Italien

These photographs are recorded in swisscovery Basel

The Bibliotheca Indica is a collection of around 3000 volumes on Asian art, archaeology, handicrafts and history with a focus on South Asia. The collection was bequeathed by Alfred Sarasin to the University Library Basel, together with a foundation whose interest can be used to purchase new publications. For this reason, the collection did not stop growing in 1953, but also includes - to a lesser extent – more recent literature on archaeology and the history of art of South Asia and neighbouring areas.

Origins of the Bibliotheca Indica

Alfred Sarasin-Iselin (1865-1953) took over the management of Riggenbach & Cie. in 1893, which was re-named Bank Sarasin & Cie after him. Since 2011 the company has belonged to the J. Safra Sarasin Group. Alfred Sarasin-Inselin was one of the founders of the Swiss Bankers Association, its president, president of the Swiss National Bank and a member of numerous boards of directors. He represented Switzerland several times on economic issues abroad.
article about Alfred Sarasin-Iselin in Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz

In an article, Alfred Sarasin himself described how his Bibliotheca Indica came about:
"In the winter of 1889/90, over a period of four months, my friend, architect Emanuel LaRoche, and I started out from Colombo, travelled throughout India and primarily visited sites with buildings of architectural worth. (…)  I expressed to La Roche my wish that what we would see and deal with, should result in a publication. (…) For this, the existing literature had to be obtained. I took over these aspects of the work more and more, and eventually decided to purchase literature on Indian art and archaeology whenever the possibility arose."
(Alfred Sarasin: Meine Bibliotheca Indica. - Basel, 1944. - S. 3-4. - to the holding in swisscovery Basel)