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Middle Eastern Studies

Collection Details

Middle Eastern Studies held at Information Services: Orchard Learning Resources Centre [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The Collection comprises material on religions of the Middle Eastern region: Christianity, Islam and Judaism; Church History esp. Early Church Fathers; Language and Literature, mainly in Arabic, Syriac and some Persian, some with translations into English; Economics and Law; Politics and government, incl. International Relations; Geographical and area studies of all countries of the Middle East, including Iran, and Arab North Africa. Estimated no. of items in the collection: 20,000.

History and development

The core of the OLRC collections is the Near Eastern Christianity and Biblical Studies Library of John Rendel Harris. This was later extended to Islamic Studies through the influence of Alphonse Mingana, and the establishment of an Islamic Lectureship at the Selly Oak Colleges in the 1920s. At the same time c.2,000 MSS were added to the collection. In 1975, this evolved into a Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, leading to the building of the collection to research level.


The major part of the collection was developed to support Islamic Studies, which is one of the strengths of the collection. The Mingana manuscript collection is very important, and there is also a significant collection on the older history of Near Eastern churches.

General arrangement and access regulations

The collection is distributed throughout the OLRC main collection, classified by Dewey Decimal Classification. It comprises open access published materials, and closed access older published and manuscript materials, most notably the internationally renowned Mingana Collection of Oriental Manuscripts mainly comprising Islamic Arabic, Christian Arabic and Syriac manuscripts.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey.

Languages of material

Arabic, English, French, German, Persian, Syriac, Urdu.


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Communication and media, Development, Economics, History, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Philosophy, Politics and government, Religion, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Languages as linguistic focus

Arabic, Persian, Syriac.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • Mingana, Alphonse, 1878-1937
  • Harris, John Rendel, 1852-1941

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Audio materials (includes cassettes & CDs), Books, Manuscripts, Serials, Theses.

Total size of collection

c.20,000 monographs, c.3,000 manuscripts, c.200 theses

Size of collection - vernacular

c.3,300 volumes, 3,000 manuscripts

Size of collection - western

c. 16,700 volumes, c. 200 theses

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has risen.

Annual intake

600 volumes

Content date range

670 to present

Interlibrary loan procedure

Collection Catalogue Information


The online catalogue lists all periodicals and all printed books acquired from 1972 onwards. Many older books are on the online catalogue, but a (steadily decreasing) proportion of older stock is listed in card catalogues. New catalogues of archive and manuscript collections are regularly added to the online archive catalogue as they are completed. These include not only catalogues of newly catalogued collections but also catalogues for existing collections for which previously there had not been a catalogue in electronic format. However, as catalogues of many of our collections are still not yet available online, for more information about our holdings of archives and manuscripts researchers are advised to consult the Guide to Archives and Manuscripts on the Special Collections web site at:

Links to other collections

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