Middle East and Islamic Studies Collection Policy

Middle East & Islamic Studies Collection

Middle East & Islamic Studies Collection Blog


subject description and guidelines

  • Selection responsibilities include both materials published in the Middle East and materials published in Western Europe and the United States about the Middle East, North Africa and Islam. We collect both trade and scholarly materials, including books, serials, government documents, audiovisual items, etc.


  • Materials about the Middle East and Islam are acquired by Cornell University Library on the basis of their relevance to the courses taught in the University and to support various instructional and research programs. These programs vary from beginning undergraduate courses to post-doctoral research. The programs served by this collection include, but are not limited to, those in Government, History, Linguistics, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, and Near Eastern Studies. The purpose of this collection development policy is to provide a point of reference about which choices concerning the addition of new publications to the collection can be made. The implementation of these guidelines is dependent on the availability of financial resources and the recurrent funding provided by the University.


collection strength

  • The collection covers virtually all subjects relevant to the study of the Middle East and Islam (coverage is comprehensive to select research level). Particular emphasis is placed on descriptive works, historical travels, history, philosophy and literature of Arabic speaking countries, including those in North Africa, religion (studies of the Koran and Hadith and associated religious texts and commentaries), Islamic law (unrelated to specific countries), Arabic literature, and political science (n.b.: Not all of these subjects are covered in every geographical area, nor is each subject evenly represented within each subject area).

collection level

  • research 

geographical guidelines

  • For the purposes of Cornell Library's Middle East and Islamic Studies, the geographic areas covered include the following countries: Mauritania, Morocco and the Western Sahara, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel (Arabic materials only), Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

areas of significant geographic coverage

country (self-governing)

  • Afghanistan 
  • Algeria 
  • Bahrain 
  • Cyprus 
  • Egypt 
  • Iran 
  • Iraq 
  • Israel 
  • Jordan 
  • Kuwait 
  • Lebanon 
  • Libya 
  • Mauritania 
  • Morocco 
  • Oman 
  • Qatar 
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • Sudan 
  • Syria 
  • Tunisia 
  • Turkey 
  • United Arab Emirates 
  • Yemen 

language guidelines

  • Material in Arabic and English are collected are collected near-comprehensively. Materials in Persian, Turkish (Modern and Ottoman), French and German titles are acquired actively, but selectively at the research level. Materials in Kurdish, Coptic, other Iranian and Turkic languages, other modern Western languages, as well as in various vernacular or less common languages are acquired as demand warrants. Translations from other languages into Middle Eastern languages are not acquired, except for occasional standard literary works when deemed necessary. Hebrew script materials are collected by the Judaica selector. English or French language fiction by North African or other Arab authors is usually covered by the selectors of those languages respectively.


  • Arabic 
  • English 
  • French 
  • German 
  • Persian 
  • Turkish 

chronological guidelines

  • Emphasis is primarily on the Islamic period, i.e., from the 6th century A.D. onward (the "classical" Arab-Islamic and modern Middle East). Materials about the pre-Islamic Middle East are also collected by the library in the areas of classics, archaeology, and fine arts. There is no limitation as to the date of publication of items collected, although emphasis is on current publications.


  • Exceptions: Not acquired or retained are materials in the following subjects: Art and architecture of Middle Eastern & Muslim countries; Law (country specific laws & statutes, etc.); Music; Science and technology; Medicine; Children's books, and textbooks.

material types

  • Emphasis is on current materials: monographs, periodicals (serials) in print and electronic formats. Manuscripts and theses and dissertations from other universities are preferably acquired in microform, when requested. Audiovisual materials and other formats are collected selectively. Important current Middle Eastern newspapers and magazines are acquired through direct air mail subscription or through the Library of Congress Cairo office.


housed in

  • Olin Library 

special collections or noteworthy resources in the field

  • Special Collections: Kroch- South & Southeast Asia; Rare Books & Manuscripts

related library subject collection


library contact

  • Houissa, Ali -  Middle East & Islamic Studies Librarian