May 22, 2022

BBC: “Timbuktu Manuscripts: Mali’s Ancient Documents Captured Online”

UPDATE March 29, 2022: “Timbuktu Manuscripts Placed Online Are Only a Sliver of West Africa’s Ancient Archive”(via The Conversation)

From BBC News:

A virtual gallery to showcase Mali’s cultural history has been launched, featuring tens of thousands of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts.

The manuscripts were smuggled to safety from Timbuktu after Islamist militant groups took control of the city in northern Mali in 2012. They contain centuries of African knowledge and scholarship on topics ranging from maths to astrology.

The collection, called Mali Magic, also captures Malian culture beyond the manuscripts. It was put together by Google, along with local and international partners.


This project to preserve Mali’s manuscripts is not however the first attempt. The University of Cape Town launched the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in 2003, with an emphasis on “manuscript traditions throughout the African continent”, according to the website.

Similarly, the US Library of Congress has made some of the manuscripts available online.

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.