Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Modern Arabic titles in catalogue searchable in Arabic script

Modern Arabic titles in the catalogue of Leiden University Libraries (UBL) can now also be consulted in original Arabic script. Taking away the need to transliterate titles, has made searching for Arabic source materials in the catalogue much easier and more efficient for users.

In 2015, UBL started to catalogue all newly acquired materials in original scripts, in addition to transliterations of titles, authors, descriptions and other metadata. To make Arabic titles catalogued before 2015 discoverable in Arabic script, 40,000 catalogue records have been expanded to include the original Arabic script. This project was recently completed. Users can now search the catalogue for titles in Arabic script, without using transliterations.


The UBL holds a distinguished collection in Middle Eastern Studies, that has been carefully selected, preserved, and made available for research, education and the public. The important collection of books covers major modern Middle Eastern languages: Arabic (over 40,000), Persian (10,000), Turkish (10,000) and Hebrew (8000).


To search for Arabic sources without Arabic script, transliteration is necessary. This transliteration system can be quite complicated. A Dutch system was in use until 2015, characterized by the use of diacritics. In 2015, the international ALA-LC system was adopted. Until the completion of the project mentioned above, users needed to try both romanization systems to search for specific titles. A cumbersome search method. Furthermore, Arabic is a language of the Abjad system, where the vowels have to be inferred by the reader. This made it difficult for Arabic beginner speakers or non-native speakers to search for items in transliteration systems. With the inclusion of the original Arabic script, research in Arabic has become easier and much more time-efficient.

This website uses cookies.  More information.