Searching CLIO in non-Roman scripts


Searching books in CLIO using non-Roman script languages can seem a bit daunting at first, but the guides here will give you tips on how to do so for the scripts needed for your areas of research.

(Note: The Starr East Asian Library has its own guides for searching Chinese, Japanese, and Korean materials in CLIO)


African Scripts


Columbia selectively collects a small number of publications in African languages written in indigenous scripts, including Amharic, Tigrinya, Mande languages in N'ko, Moroccan Tamazight, Tamashek of Algeria, Mali, and Niger, as well as Senegalese Wolofal, Guinean Pular, and other West African languages that use African ajami script.

The American Library Association and The Library of Congress have created romanization tables for some of these scripts which can be used as a guide for searching library catalogs in the United States.

Mande languages in N'ko
Moroccan Tamazight



Arabic Script

CLIO can be searched using Arabic script. However only books cataloged after 2007 will have bibliographic description in Arabic. Older records can only be found using Latin alphabet. CLIO and most other library catalogs use Library of Congress (LC) transliteration rules.
Transliteration guides below explain how some Arabic script languages are represented in library catalogs.

    Transliteration Guide for Arabic
    Transliteration Guide for Persian
    Transliteration Guide for Ottoman Turkish
    Transliteration Guide for Urdu
    Translitaration Guide for Pushto

Please note that these rules vary slightly from those used by IJMES or Encyclopaedia of Islam.

We also recommend using WorldCat where large percentage of books has description in Arabic script  and records link back to CLIO catalog.

Hebrew Script

Nearly 60% of the records for Hebrew works in CLIO include Hebrew characters, so it is worthwhile to try searching in Hebrew if you are looking for a specific text.

Note: Regular CLIO does not process non-Roman script searches well.  You must use CLIO Legacy for best results when searching in Hebrew characters.


If searching in transliterated Hebrew, Princeton University had a handy reference guide to Hebrew transliteration.  Note that library transliteration can differ slightly from typical academic transliteration of Hebrew.

Note: Hebrew transliteration has changed significantly over the 20th century, and so a book that was cataloged in the 1940s might look different than a book from 2003.  If you cannot find your book, it is also helpful to seach by author.  Another useful tool is to search Worldcat, the "catalog of catalogs," which will indicate if Columbia holds a title, and will give a direct link to that title in CLIO, if it is available.

For Yiddish: A handy chart describing the YIVO transliteration system can be found here.

For more help, please contact the Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies at or 212-854-8046.

You can also find a detailed guide to general research in Jewish Studies here.

South Asian Scripts

Library catalogers use the Library of Congress Romanization Tables for standard transliteration when cataloging new materials. However, older catalog records may use variant schemes of Romanization. When searching for non-roman script items in the library catalog, it can be useful to try several spelling variants.

OCLC currently claims to support South Asian scripts such as Assamese, Bengali, Devanagari, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Sanskrit, Sherpa, Tamil, Urdu. In practice, only a small percentage of materials cataloged in Worldcat are directly searchable by non-Roman scripts. Hence it is necessary to know how to search using non-Roman script standard transliteration conventions.

ALA-LC transliteration guidelines for specific languages and scripts may vary from standards common to introductory South Asia language learning texts. A few examples:

  • In Hindi transliteration, the vowel a is implicit after all consonants and consonant clusters and is supplied in transliteration unless another vowel is specifically indicated or the absence of a vowel is clearly indicated by the virāma. Thus, for example, the Hindi word for ‘book’ is transliterated as kitāba and pustaka (rather than as kitāb and pustak).
  • Transliteration of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit conjunct compounds may vary; sometimes rendered as a single word/unit; sometimes with dashes separating individual elements; and sometimes with spaces between individual ‘words.’

Standard Library of Congress Romanization tables are available for the following languages/scripts (control click, to open romanization table in new page):

Southeast Asian Scripts

Library catalogers use the Library of Congress Romanization Tables for standard transliteration when cataloging new materials.

ALC-LC transliteration tables exist for the following Southeast Asian languages and scripts:

Romanization table for Balinese

Romanization table for Batak

Romanization table for Burmese

Romanization table for Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese

Romanization table for Jawi/Pegon

Romanization table for Khmer

Romanization table for Thai