Monday, May 6, 2013

Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts on microfiche

This library material,  titled the Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts, appears to be a very rich set of texts on microfiche, which other libraries and scholars have begun to request copies of some of the 495 titles though InterLibrary Servies.  That raises several questions for our library.

These microfiche were gifted or donated to the University of Virginia about 5 years ago. Our main concern is that these microfiche may be unique (the only holder of them in the world as far as we know?), and we are reluctant to lend them without retaining a copy for ourselves. We are in discussions and are investigating how to best manage these materials, especially if we are going to lend them to others.

What is this set?  There is a 1975 catalog of these, which lists 495 separate Sanskrit titles in the set. OUr VIRGO listing indicates there are 1206 microfiche, each microfiche may contain 24 images (x 1206 = about 29,000 images).  We have searched for an institution or company which makes copies of microfiche. There seem to be plenty of companies  around which do microfilm duplication, but few that do microfiche duplication..  But, we may have recently found one which may do this - and at the same time they would also make digital image copies of the texts.  They are estimating the cost.

Still, there are a concerns about copyright and lending / sending digital copies or microfiche to others.  There is no information in the 1975 catalog as to how and when these were microfiched in 1975 or before.

Below are some images of the microfiche, with samples of scans at the end.

 1. Four boxes of microfiche on the left, with the List title, and print outs of scanned individual title and a text page on the right.

 2. Left the cover of the list of Titles, and right top a scanned title page, 
and right bottom a scanned text page.

 3. The four boxes with the microfiche.

 4. The four boxes opened up to display the microfiche
5. The first box and the last box

6. Sample microfiche from the first and last microfiche sets, which have two microfiche.  The bottom is the first fiche of the title and is filled with the 24 frames.The upper fiche is the second of a title and shows empty frames.
 7. Samples. This is an identification first frame and a title scanned from the microfiche.

8. Samples. Scans of the beginning text frame on the left and the end text frame on the right.

Does anyone else have any comments or questions? - if so, please write to me at

Trying a Google search for"Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts" one gets several hits.  Are these the same texts as we have at the University of Virginia, but held at other institutions, especially in Nepal?
See, for example, these two links


  1. Phil,

    There must be institutional or individual memory somewhere about the project that generated these fiche. From the date of the original filming and the contents list, it's quite possible that these were early products of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, NGMPP. If so, you're right to worry about intellectual propery, since the National Archives of Nepal now control permissions on those films.

    The NGMPP is now in its cataloging phase. You might be able to check some of the fiche titles against their available data; there's some tool at

    With regard to the 2 links you post, the first is a monograph you can ILL. The second is a discrete project with a later start and a different set of mss, I'm pretty sure.

    Good luck!


  2. This looks like the catalog for this set.

    Author: Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions.

    Title: A descriptive catalog of the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the microform collection of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions / by Mana Bajra Bajracharya and Christopher S. George.

    Published: [New York? : The Institute, 1977?-


    1. Bronwen, Thanks for both of your posts, and your ideas and information about this set. I'll keep on investigating and trying to learn about this.