The IIS holds one of the most significant repositories in the world of materials related to Ismaili communities, comprising nearly 3,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Indic languages, in addition to several hundred volumes of rare books, periodicals and journals, off-prints, as well as a number of important coins from the Fatimid and Alamut periods of Ismaili history.
In 2013, the Institute established the Ismaili Special Collections Unit to promote a systematic study and research on materials of special relevance to the heritage of the Ismaili communities worldwide. This Unit is also responsible for the overall management and development of special collections at the IIS, including manuscripts, coins and other artefacts, rare printed books and journals, archival items, audio-visual materials etc., as well as overseeing a variety of activities such as cataloguing, preservation, digitisation and organising exhibitions. The Unit is also putting into place an archiving programme to preserve and facilitate the scholarly use of important archival materials in the IIS’ collection.
The Ismaili Special Collections Unit (ISCU) has launched an online catalogue of special collections housed at the IIS. Featuring information on a significant number of items, including photographs, artefacts, coins and medals, rare books, manuscripts, archival items and periodicals, the catalogue will enable a wide range of audiences, including researchers and students, to explore heritage materials relating to Ismaili communities online.