May 20, 2022

Endangered Manuscripts: Boston University Libraries Releases Digitized Collection of Mandinka Ajami & Arabic Manuscripts from Casamance, Senegal

From Boston University Libraries:

Boston University Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services are honored to announce the public release of over 18,000 pages of manuscripts from 58 different Mandinka scholars in Casamance, Senegal, which are now completely digitized and openly available in the African Ajami Library on OpenBU.

The project initially focused on preserving endangered Mandinka Ajami manuscripts of the southern Casamance region of Senegal. However, our fieldwork team found on the ground, when the project began, that the manuscripts were richer than initially anticipated. They encompass four major types: (1) Arabic texts; (2) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic; (3) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic and local languages (Soninke and Mandinka); and (4) Mandinka Ajami texts. Because all the manuscripts are equally important and document the preoccupations and intellectual traditions of the Mandinka people of Senegambia and beyond, we expanded the project beyond its original focus on Mandinka Ajami texts to include Arabic and bilingual (Arabic and Mandinka or Soninke) manuscripts, which we were granted permission by manuscript owners to digitize.

This was a joint project between Boston University and the West African Research Center (WARC), funded by the British Library Endangered Archives Programme (EAP 1042)*. Support for this project was also being provided from the BU College of Arts & Sciences (Former Dean Ann E. Cudd and Former Associate Dean Nancy Ammerman), the BU Department of Anthropology, and Boston University Libraries. Fieldwork Team: Dr. Fallou Ngom (Pricipal Investigator; Director, African Studies Center), Ablaye Diakité (Local Project Manager), Mr. Ibrahima Yaffa (General Field Facilitator), and Ibrahima Ngom (photographer). Technical Team: Dr. Fallou Ngom (Principal Investigator; Director, African Studies Center), and Eleni Castro (Technical Lead, Boston University Libraries). This collection of Mandinka Ajami materials is copied as part of the Boston University African Studies Center’s African Ajami Library.

Direct to Complete Announcement (with Additional Photos)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.