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Middle East Collection

Collection Details

Middle East Collection held at University of Cambridge Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The collection covers language teaching materials for Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages. There are also descriptive works, historical travels, history, philosophy and literature of Persian, Turkish and Arabic-speaking countries, including those in North Africa. Also included are studies of Koran and Hadith and associated religious texts and commentaries. There is a small collection on art and architecture of Islamic countries. Politics and economics of the modern Middle East are not collected consistently because of a lack of funding support. A similar range of subjects is covered for Persian studies which includes classical and modern literature, Persian history and culture up to Qajar and modern Iran. There is a small Turkish section consisting of publications on language teaching, Ottoman history, modern history and politics of Turkey and on classical and modern literature.

History and development

The Arabic, Persian and Turkish sections of the Library form one of the original library collections. The original library was based on a bequest from A. A. Bevan (Professor of Arabic in 1893-1933) whose books relating to Arabic, Syriac and Persian formed a basis for a teaching collection. Later, books were added from the collections of E.G. Browne (the Cambridge Professor and Fellow of Pembroke College, whose interests and expertise covered Turkish, Arabic and Persian), Professor R.A. Nicholson and Professor A.J. Arberry. The Persian collections contain books from the collections of Vladimir Minorsky and Reuben Levy. Over the last thirty years or so there has been regular purchasing of new publications which have been added to the collections. There has especially been growth in language and linguistic studies, modern politics and literature.


The major strengths of the section lie in the areas of bibliography, language teaching, literature (classical and modern), history and religion.

General arrangement and access regulations

The Middle East collection forms one section of the Faculty Library. All volumes about Middle Eastern studies or in the Arabic, Persian of Turkish languages are shelved in the same section of the Library and are arranged by an in-house classification scheme. Periodicals are shelved with the rest of the Library's periodical holdings. Some older volumes are shelved in a basement store in the Faculty building.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Languages of material

Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928).


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

Languages as linguistic focus

Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928).

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Books, Maps (includes all types of cartographic material), Serials.

Total size of collection

9,350 volumes 177 serials 7 newspapers 650 maps

Size of collection - vernacular

4,540 volumes 7 newspapers 95 serials

Size of collection - western

4,810 volumes 82 serials 650 maps

Collection Management Information

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

Annual intake

200 volumes

Content date range

1800 to present

Collection policy

Collection Catalogue Information


Included in the Union Catalogue of Departmental and College catalogues which is part of the Cambridge University on-line catalogue

Catalogue transliteration schemes

LCSH with local adaptations

Links to other collections

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