January 21, 2022

New Resource: University of Toronto’s Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library Brings Rare Manuscripts and Artefacts to Scholars Around the World

From the University of Toronto:

“Which colour longyi makes the best background when photographing Pali palm-leaf manuscripts?” writes Tony Scott, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, referencing the long piece of cloth widely worn as a garment in Myanmar. “As it turns out, light green.”

It’s the opening line from an article Scott recently published on the Oxford Tea Circle blog that highlights the importance of a new U of T resource: the Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library.

Housed at Robarts Library, the open-access digital archive features manuscripts and rare print editions of texts from libraries across Myanmar. It is the result of an ongoing digitizing project led by an international team of scholars and volunteers who have spent more than five years cleaning, cataloguing and curating texts that cover a range of topics connected to the Southeast Asian country, from Buddhist literature and doctrine to medicine and astrology.


Scott has been working on this project alongside a number of scholars from U of T’s department for the study of religion, including Associate Professor Christoph Emmrich, who managed the launch of the digital archive in collaboration with Robarts Library; Andrew Dade, a PhD student who will manage new content as digitization efforts continue; and Rachelle Saruya, a PhD candidate and the academic website curator who is currently working on a Burmese translation of the website.

“The team recognizes that language is a barrier for access,” says Scott. “Scholars in Myanmar who do not speak English should still be able to benefit from this resource. Given the linguistic expertise of the University of Toronto, other languages might also be possible in the future.”

The database will continue to grow considerably over the next few years thanks to a partnership with the National Library of Myanmar, which has one of the largest collections of Pali palm-leaf manuscripts in Southeast Asia. These manuscripts were collected from monasteries and libraries throughout the country, and the team behind the Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library expects to upload 10,000 of these texts to the archive.

Direct to Complete Launch Announcement

Direct to Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.