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Middle East and Islamic Studies Library Resources

A guide designed for graduate students and researchers.

Romanization and Transliteration

  • Some records in HOLLIS have Romanization only and do not have parallel titles in the original script.
  • To be able to find all the resources available in HOLLIS, It is essential to search in both Romanized and original language script.


  • Romanization refers to the process of representing non-Latin or vernacular scripts into Roman (Latin) Alphabet.
  • Transliteration, on the other hand, literally refers to converting one script into another.
  • Harvard Library uses the American Library Association and Library of Congress Romanization tables for the bibliographic description of non-Latin resources.
  • Links to ALA-LC Romanization tables are available at the Library of Congress Website: ALA-LC Romanization Tables


ARABIC: Quick suggestions for searching Arabic resources in HOLLIS:

  • Diacritics are not needed for searching
  • Initial definite article (al-) is omitted
  • Note middle definite articles are retained: For example: Isharat wa-al-tanbihat
  • Taa marbutah - ends with an "h" and not an "a": For example: Mutasawwifah
  • Pre-fixes and preposition are followed by a hyphen


PERSIAN: Quick suggestions for searching Persian resources in HOLLIS:

  • The above points on Arabic script apply to Persian.
  • Keyboard: When searching for Persian resources pay attention to two forms of final ي vs. ی. The UNICODE of the Persian keyboard vs. the UNICODE of the Arabic keyboard provide different results. For example: فردوسي and  فردوسی
  • Different transliteration systems may produce different results on HOLLIS. Specifically, those transliteration systems (like Iranica) that are closer to modern standard Persian, produce less accurate results. Example: Ferdowsi and Firdausi
  • Materials published after 2009 may not exist in Romanized. Instead they may only be accessible through the vernacular script. (Try both)

HEBREW: Quick suggestions for searching Hebrew resources in HOLLIS (adapted from Ornan and Leket-Mor, 2016; Biella, Fryser, and Lerner 2014)

  • The letter ה is always represented by h whether they indicating a consonant or a vowel 

  • The definite article ה, the conjunction ו, and the prepositions ל ,מ ,כ and ב written as prefixes in Hebrew script, are separated by hyphenation from the words to which they are prefixed in Romanization.

  • However, multiple prefixed articles conjunctions, and prepositions are clustered together such that they are separated by ONLY one hyphen EXCEPT when one of the prefixes is the first word of a title.
  • Every sheva in an initial syllables are sheva na' and are Romanized as an "e" regardless of their pronunciation. This includes instances in which sheva na' results from vowel reduction.
  • Diacritics are used differently than in some transliteration systems and are restricted to the following: ṿ, ṭ, ḳ, ḥ, and ś.
  • For the Romanization conventions of Geresh, Gershayim, and Miagkĭi Znak see Biella, Fryser, and Lerner 2014 (link below).
  • In Romanization there is no distinction between dagesh ḥazaḳ (a.k.a "forte") and dagesh ḳal (a.k.a. "lene") and dagesh is noted to distinguish between /b/ and /v/, /k/ or /kh/, and /p/ or /f/ for כ ,ב, and פ respectively.
  • When א is word-initial or syllable-final (including word-final), it is disregarded in Romanization. It is also omitted when used to indicate the presence of a vowel. When the Alef carries its own vowel, the character () is used to Romanize the letter, whereas (‘) is used for ע 


Works Cited and Further Reading:

Biella,  Joan,  Benjamin  Fryser,  and  Heidi  Lerner.  2014.  Hebraica Cataloging, RDA, A Guide to ALA/LC Romanization and Descriptive Cataloging, Draft, June 2014.  Israel/Judai-ca Section Library of Congress, accessed January 1, 2015,

Molavi, Fereshteh. “Main Issues in Cataloging Persian Language Materials in North America.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 43, no. 2 (December 8, 2006): 77–82.

Ornan, Uzzi, and Rachel Leket-Mor. “Phonemic Conversion as the Ideal Romanization Scheme for Hebrew: Implications for Hebrew Cataloging.” Judaica Librarianship 19, no. 1 (2016): 43–72.

For a history of Romanization practices outside of library cataloging see (e.g.):

Ayturk, Ilker. “Script Charisma in Hebrew and Turkish: A Comparative Framework for Explaining Success and Failure of Romanization.” Journal of World History 21, no. 1 (2010): 97–130.

ISBN Numbers

ISBN Numbers:  Knowing an items ISBN number can be helpful in searching, however not every country uses the ISBN number as a way to register copyright.  To search for ISBN numbers try looking in Google Books or WorldCat.

  • WorldCat:  A Bibliographic Utility built from Group of Library Consortium from Around the World, but mainly in North America.  Originated with OCLC.  Is a more comprehensive world catalogue that can be helpful finding an ISBN Number

HOLLIS Searches with Facets

Basic Search Box is recommended for keyword and title search.

Browse Search is recommended if you have an authorized form of an author's name, subject, etc.., it's an index search.

Advanced Search is recommended for combined searches using search filters such as "resource type", language, publication date, etc...

(Three-character alphabetic MARC Code List for languages:  Example: ara = Arabic ; per = Persian)


HOLLIS: Key-terms alphabetic MARC code for languages. (Example of Three-Letter Codes: ARA = Arabic ; PER = Persian)

HOLLIS: Key-terms alphabetic MARC code for languages. ( Example of Three-Letter Codes: ARA = Arabic ; PER = Persian)


You can also search for Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts using Browse search >>> Call Number-Other >>> : Example: ms ara for Arabic manuscripts

 HOLLIS: Browse by three-character alphabetic language code

 HOLLIS: Browse by three-character alphabetic language code


HOLLIS:  Use Search Facets for Language Searches

HOLLIS:  Use Search Facets for Language Searches