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Turkish and Turkic languages

Collection Details

Turkish and Turkic languages held at Asian and African Studies [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Printed books and periodicals: in the humanities and social sciences, from all parts of the Turkish- and Turkic-speaking world and ranging in date from early Ottoman imprints to the latest publications.

Manuscripts: covering all subject fields, and ranging in time from Old Turkic texts and fragments in the Stein Collection to handwritten and typed texts of recent years. Numerous fine illustrated and/or illuminated volumes.

Photographs: 52 albums of pictures of the Ottoman Empire, presented by Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1894.

A considerable proportion of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts is also of Turkish origin.

Sound recordings, music, maps, postal stamps and postal history, and scientific and technical publications from the Turkish world are held by other parts of the British Library.

History and development

As with other sections of OIOC, the collections formerly held by the British Museum and the India Office Library collections constitute the nucleus of the collections; relatively few Turkish items come from the IOL collections.

Before the 1960s, collection policy focused on the traditional fields of learning; since then, it has broadened mainly through the acquisition of examples of new creative writing. Budgetary constraints have resulted in a search for "dovetailing" of selection criteria with SOAS Library, especially regarding periodicals. Manuscripts and antiquarian books continue to be acquired, to the extent funds permit.


Modern Turkish printed materials: traditional humanistic fields of learning: history, religious sciences including law, creative literature, traditional sciences, civilization of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey.

Soviet-era and post-1990 periodicals from Central Asia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation.

Ottoman Turkish books, including a complete holding of Ibrahim Muteferrika imprints, and journals.

Monographs from North Cyprus, since 1997.

Manuscripts in Ottoman, including numerous items of great rarity. Manuscripts in Chaghatay (literary Eastern Turkic), including India Office Library material from Kashgar.

The arts of the Islamic manuscript: calligraphy, binding, miniature painting, illumination.

General arrangement and access regulations

The following categories of material are held: printed books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Central Asia and the Caucasus, East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.


Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Languages of material

Altaic (Other), Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Chagatai, Chuvash, Kara-Kalpak, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Tatar, Turkish, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928), Turkmen, Tuvinian, Uighur, Uzbek.


Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Communication and media, Economics, Education, Geography, History, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Audio materials (includes cassettes & CDs), Books, Computer files (includes CD-ROMs & other electronic material), Manuscripts, Music (only includes printed & manuscript music), Newspapers (includes microfilm editions), Official publications, Serials, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

Very approximately 20,000 printed volumes 2,000 manuscript volumes containing about 4,000 texts

Size of collection - vernacular

The above items are almost all at least partially in Asian languages.

Size of collection - western

Impossible to make a serviceable estimate of numbers. Many thousands of monographs and periodicals bear in some way on Turkey or the Turkic world, especially if one includes material on the classical civilizations.

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

Books: 400; Periodicals: 30; Manuscripts: 6

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Co-operative agreements

  • With SOAS Library, reduction in duplication of periodical titles taken and consequent broader coverage between the two libraries.

Collection Catalogue Information


Card catalogue of Turkish printed books.

Catalogue transliteration schemes

British Library transliteration, except for Cyrillic-script Turkic, for which LC romanization has been applied since 1999.

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