Al-Beruni Institute for Oriental Studies
(give a brief summary comment about holdings here)
Al-Beruni Institute of Oriental Studies, Uzbek Academy of Sciences O’zbekiston Respublikasi, 100170, Toshkent sh., Mirzo Ulug’bek ko’chasi, 81
+99871 262 54 61
Schedule & hours
A typical work day at the Institute begins at 9:15 am, when the staff of the reading room and catalog room arrive; it usually ends at around 4:50 pm (or sometimes as early as 4:30 pm) when the staff recall the manuscripts from readers.
(what languages do you need, and what languages can you limp by on?)
Directions to the archive
The Institute is located in the Akadem Gorodok (Academy Town) neighborhood around two kilometers from the Buyuk Ipak Yoli (formerly Maksim Gorki) metro station.
There are three collections at the al-Beruni Institute. The Main Collection holds approximately 13,000 volumes; the Hamid Sulaymanov Collection some 7,300 volumes; and the Duplicate or Doublet Collection some 5,000 volumes. The Main Collection has three card catalog categories: subject, author and title. The card catalog for Hamid Sulaymanov is organized only by language and title. Lastly, the card catalog for the Duplicate Collection has no organizing principle: it lists works in a wholly random manner, giving each a consecutive number starting from one. Moreover, the name “duplicate collection” is a misnomer: some of the copies can be quite old, suggesting that valuable manuscripts were also assigned to this collection.
Although the card catalogs are generally sufficiently detailed, experts I met with at the Institute state that the trade-off between the pace and quality of work and the level of expertise of the earlier cataloguers took its toll. Quite a few works are either misidentified or left unidentified. Fortunately, the Main Collection has a print catalog in addition to the card catalog: Sobranie Vostochnykh Rukopisei, 11 vols., Tashkent, 1952-1987. However, the staff at the Institute again caution that this catalog, although rich, is not particularly systematic or comprehensive. I was informed that work is currently in progress on similar print catalogs for the Hamid Sulaymanov and Duplicate collections.
(what permits, identity documents, or letters of reference do you need to present? how far in advance must you begin to register?)
Permitted and prohibited items
(if possible, account for laptop computers, cameras, scanners, phones, pens and pencils, loose papers, and so on)
- Permitted: Laptops are allowed while working.
- Prohibited: Cell phones are to be kept in backpacks, suitcases, etc., which may be left on a table in the reading room. There is a no camera in the building policy: they do not carry out searches but if they notice a camera they remind you of the policy and ask you to keep it in a room other than the reading room during research.
Document ordering and delivery
Manuscript access is very straightfoward, and three manuscripts are typically given out at a time.
Photocopying, photography, microfilming
To obtain digital copies of manuscripts, one must submit a petition to be approved by the president, Dr. Bahrom Abdulholimov. Since he also holds the position of vice president of the Uzbek Academy of Science, he spends half of his time away from the Institute. Researchers who require his permission and signature must learn his schedule and submit their requests accordingly. His permission is necessary on other occasions as well, but the staff is helpful in contacting him over the phone for his permission when that is possible. Also, there is only one staff member who is authorized to scan manuscripts for digital copies, Argash Kamilov, and he is not always at the Institute. Requests for digital copies should therefore never be left to the last minute.
The rates for digital copies run from US $4/folio for entire works (defined as an entire volume between two covers) to US $2/folio for partial copies (anything less than an entire volume). On this and previous visits I did not encounter any limitations on what can be digitized; as long as one has the permission to work with a given manuscript, it is also possible to digitize the desired sections.
(give names of archive staff and other individuals who can help researchers)
I stayed at a hotel for the length of my visit, Uzbek National House (95 Soghbon St.). This is a traditional Uzbek house with several rooms opening onto a central courtyard. Some of the rooms have a private bathroom with shower, others use common facilities. My room was ensuite, with two beds, and included breakfast. The rate for this room was US $40/night (though because of my earlier connection I paid a bit less). It is about 50 minutes from the Institute by public transportation, which is quite cheap, or half an hour by taxi (7,000-8,000 sums).
However, for longer research trips a short-term apartment rental is preferable, if one can be found. This can cut accommodation costs significantly (it is around US $300/mo. for a furnished, three-bedroom apartment). But it may be significantly harder to arrange because of the legal issues involved. In Uzbekistan every foreign national must have a registration document stating the address and duration of stay. As an easy solution, hotels supply this document. When renting an apartment, the landlord must be willing to deal with the bureaucratic procedure of ensuring registration.
The above-mentioned registration document is one’s crucial connection to the Uzbek bureaucracy, and should therefore be kept with you all times along with your passport. Though police identity checks have become less frequent of late, they still happen with some regularity, so this is the document they will want to see after the passport. It makes one traceable in the country. If you decide to change hotels or go on an overnight excursion the hotel manager is bound by law to make sure that you have this document showing that you stayed at an officially recognized institution the night before. Not being able to document your location while in the country will definitely invite trouble. In terms of currency, it is strongly recommended that you carry US dollars in intact but not newly issued bills. Slightly damaged or newly issued banknotes are likely to be refused at official or unofficial exchange points (July 2012 official rate: US $1 = about 1,800 sum; unofficial market rate: US $1 = 2,700 sum). The Euro is at a disadvantage, and it was surprising to note that the Pound Sterling was not commonly recognized in the marketplace.
For an internet connection, the best solution is to get a USB modem from one of the telecommunication companies. Beeline is especially recommended as I found them to offer the most reliable service, but this should be checked as things can change very quickly in the Uzbek economy. By visiting a branch with my passport I was able to get a phone number and a modem for about US $35. Internet cafes appear to have become less prevalent in recent years.
Ertuğrul Ökten's description of a visit to this archive in July 2012  was the chief source of this wiki's information.