Reader photography of manuscripts at the Mingana collection (Birmingham Special Collections)

Glasnost is spreading through UK manuscripts collections!  First the National Archives; now the Mingana! 

I wrote over the weekend to the Mingana collection of Syriac and Arabic manuscripts at Birmingham university.  Without much hope, I asked if I could bring my own digital camera; if not, what would they charge me for some images? Today I got a prompt and courteous reply:

You would be welcome to come to the Special Collections Department (4th floor, Main Library, Edgbaston campus) and make your own copies from Mingana manuscripts. We allow the use of hand held cameras (without flash) by researchers, subject to completion of a permission form. Any copies made are for personal research use only. We do not make a charge for this.

We would need advance notice of your visit (ideally 7 days) as we will need to transfer the manuscript from a store on another campus to our reading room here in the Main Library. We would need full details of the manuscript… you will need to bring a letter of introduction…

Alternatively you can place an order for digital images. You should complete the appropriate form (available from printing on our website at – click on the image to enlarge to a format suitable for printing) and return to the Special Collections Department, Main Library, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT. There is a minimum charge of £10.

The images are £1 ($2) each, which is a perfectly reasonable price.  On a visit there you can also print off monochrome images from the microfiches of the whole collection (probably get them by mail also).

Birmingham has suddenly catapulted itself into the major league, I  think.  Someone needs to scan the catalogues of the Mingana collection and get them online!


2 thoughts on “Reader photography of manuscripts at the Mingana collection (Birmingham Special Collections)

  1. It’s excellent news, isn’t it. It means that more and more of the collection will get recorded, over time, thereby reducing the risk.

    The next step would be for the library to collect and publish user photographs (but I haven’t seen any libraries think of this yet). In this way a natural, free digitisation programme would spring up.

    I’ve today ordered 26 images by mail from the Mingana. Let’s see how they do!

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