Library – History and Holdings
The library is an integral part of the Orient-Institut, which was established in 1961. During its first years the library experienced a continuous and rapid growth, turning it into one of the major research tools for Orientalist and Middle Eastern regional studies. Growth slowed down after the outbreak of the Civil War (1975-1991): Importing Western specialist literature became more difficult, though books and periodicals from the Arab book markets could still be purchased. In 1987 the German members of the Institute had to move to Istanbul, only to come back in 1994/95. In the meantime a second institute and a second library was established, specializing on the Turkic world.
The library owns a substantial collection of monographies and periodicals in major Western languages and in Arabic. Despite its changeful history, the library houses an internationally important collection of primary sources and scholarly studies which is continuously amended by new acquisitions. Gaps caused by the war and the establishment of the second library are gradually filled according to needs although some gaps will remain. In accordance with the traditional orientation of German Oriental Studies, the original interest lay on Classical Islamic Studies with an emphasis on Sunni Islam. Regional and Contemporary Studies and Shia Islam gained importance later. The library holds a comprehensive collection of texts and monographs in Koranic and Hadith studies, in Islamic theology and law, in philosophy and mysticism. It furthermore documents the history of natural sciences and mathematics in the Islamic world. Islamic art history is also collected. In the fields of history and social sciences all periods of Islamic history are well represented. Holdings are especially rich for modern times, reflecting the growing interest in the contemporary Arab and Islamic world. Literature on Lebanon is very well represented in the library. The history of Eastern Christianity is an additional field of interest and collection. Classical Arabic literature has been a main focus for German Oriental Studies since their beginning which is well reflected in the library holdings. Modern Arabic literature is intensively acquired and the library has very good holdings here. Semitic Philology, which had lost some ground, is now collected again. The library is particularly rich in periodicals. Besides of well-established scholarly journals, its holdings include academic, religious, political, cultural and literary periodicals from all parts of the Middle East. The library can provide some sets of great rarity and completeness which are internationally remarkable. The periodical collection comprises around 1.700 titles (including six regional newspapers) while the complete library holds around 111.000 volumes (as of 08/2007). Adding to this the library owns CD-ROM’s and DVD’s and has subscribed to some databases like Index Islamicus and the new Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
The library holdings can be searched in two catalogues: a traditional card catalogue that comprises all holdings acquired until 1995 and an electronic catalogue for all literature acquired since then. In 2003 the card catalogue was changed into an Image Catalogue . All holdings acquired since 1995 and all periodicals can be accessed through the Library Catalogue which nevertheless still in 2007 will be replaced by a PICA-OPAC that will be part of the biggest German Union Catalogue GBV GBV which itself provides access to international library catalogues and databases. For the time being, there are three computers available for its users that enable catalogue inquiries and provide access to Index Islamicus and Encyclopaedia of Islam Three (subscription still planned in 2007).