The Library holds a small, but fine, collection of oriental and eastern manuscripts - devotional, literary and other works, as well as several fine Qu'rans. These have been mainly gifted to the University over the years, enhanced by some recent acquisitions. Written in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Greek (including several of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri), Burmese, Coptic, Singalese, Pali and Tamil, the manuscripts vary in date from the 1st century AD to the 19th century. Examples include a 16th century Shahnamah, a very unusual scroll form of Sadi’s Bustan, a Timurid Qu’ran, an Ethiopian psalter, an intriguing Hebrew scroll which seems to have been made out of several different manuscripts, an Indonesian batak foldout text, Burmese magic texts, a richly coloured Tibetan religious text and a lavishly illustrated Book of Wonders.
Recent work has been undertaken to improve the catalogue records for the Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and records are currently being added to a union catalogue of Islamic manuscripts called Fihrist.