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last updated: 4/24/2012

Collection Development Policies - Middle Eastern

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      This document will provide information about the scope of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies collection. It will serve as a basis for planning future development and maintenance of the collection, as a tool for use by IU Libraries staff and administration, and as a basis for cooperative agreements and sharing of information with other libraries.

    2. Audience
      The intended audience is comprised of Libraries staff and administrators, faculty and students at Indiana University, and colleagues at other research libraries with comparable collections.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      1. The Evolution of Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University - Bloomington 1965-
        Throughout its history at Indiana University, Middle Eastern Studies has undergone a series of redefinitions. The University's attention to this area arose from various departmental courses, and was centralized in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (NELL), which was established in 1965. The impetus for development of the Near East Studies Collection came primarily from the disciplines of History and Political Science, with additional input from Anthropology, Fine Arts, and Folklore. The formation of the Religious Studies Department at the same time in 1965 provided additional support. Initial interest was actively inter-disciplinary and broad enough to designate Near Eastern Studies as an area program. The teaching of Turkish already was organized as part of the Uralic and Altaic Studies Department. Persian was taught under the auspices of NELL until 1970 and then dropped as the university changed its priorities and shifted the focus in Near Eastern Studies from an area studies program to the departmental level with an emphasis on Arabic and Hebrew languages and literatures.

        NELC quickly became an international leader in the field of Arabic language and literature, particularly in relation to comparative literature. For example, over the years, IUB has produced more Ph.D. thesis on Arabic-Western literary relations than any other university and its graduates have become well known leaders throughout the world in various academic and governmental posts. The depth and strength of the program of Arabic studies at IUB is reflected in the sophisticated Arabic Language Studies web site produced by NELC

        Since its inception, the development of Middle Eastern Studies at IUB has gone through a series of reorganizations in which the focus has alternated between a more narrow emphasis on the department's internationally recognized strength in Arabic language and literature and a broader interdisciplinary area studies approach. In 1979, the university administration proposed the creation of an interdisciplinary program to serve those who wanted to work on Middle Eastern topics, with existing NELL faculty to be dispersed among the relevant faculties. To evaluate this and other reorganization proposals, an external review committee was engaged to review IU's program and to make recommendations about how best to proceed. Following its recommendations, the university broadened NELL's charge in 1980 and changed its name to the Department of Near East Languages and Cultures (NELC). Simultaneously, it created a formal Middle East Studies Program with close links to NELC and offered joint appointments in other IU departments and programs to NELC professors. A third attempt to reorganize occurred in 1987/88. After considering various alternatives, the university committed itself to revitalizing Middle Eastern Studies. This commitment was pursued by expanding the Middle Eastern studies faculty overall, by strengthening Hebrew studies, and by reviving the Persian studies program. In 1994, the university once again reaffirmed its commitment to NELC and MESP and expressed its desire to increase support so that IU's MESP could become a federally funded, Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center. Additional faculty was hired and the budget increased to support an expanded program.

        The most recent reorganization occurred during the spring semester of 2001, when the Acting Chair of NELC working closely with a group of current NELC faculty, produced and submitted to the College of Arts and Sciences an Enhancement Plan for the continuation, reorganization, and reinvigoration of NELC. The proposed plan recommended to the College that: NELC be affirmed as a department; NELC should be composed of the full (core plus expanded) faculty; NELC should be structured with language instruction at its base and an array of cultural foci comprising its curriculum; and NELC should formally collaborate with other interdisciplinary departments (most notably Central Eurasian Studies, Jewish Studies, India Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, African Studies, and Religious Studies) in an intellectually coherent and administratively cooperative manner. These recommendations were accepted and implemented, leading to an expanded Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program and a Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures composed of a small core faculty focused on Arabic language and literatures but enhanced by a large number of faculty from many other departments and the library

        As currently structured, the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), with the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program (MEISP), plays a key role in Indiana University's mission to foster cross-cultural understanding and international education Through its home faculty and cooperative arrangements with adjacent departments at IUB, NELC provides a superb location for learning and research for those who wish to deepen their understanding of the complexities of the region of the Near East and the Muslim world. For undergraduates, NELC offers a major leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, and minors in Arabic, Persian, Islamic Studies, and Near Eastern Civilization. For graduates, the department offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as a full program of graduate courses within the following areas: Arabic Language and Linguistics; Byzantine Studies; Islamic Studies; Middle Eastern Cultures and Civilizations; Middle Eastern Literatures; Middle Eastern Religions. In 2004, NELC also began offering a beginning course in Urdu, an Indo-Iranian language from the Hindi/Urdu group written in Arabic script and spoken primarily in Pakistan.

      2. Relationship with the Jewish Studies Program (JSP) 1974-
        The Jewish Studies Program at IUB is one of the largest, oldest, and most vibrant Jewish Studies programs in the country. It specializes in ancient Judaism, Yiddish and East European Jewish culture, Jewish culture in Muslim countries, Hebrew language and literature, and Holocaust Studies, among many other areas of inquiry. It approaches Jewish culture from a variety of different disciplinary perspectives: anthropology, history, literature, linguistics, philosophy, political science, and religious studies.

        There exists considerable cooperation and overlap between the Jewish Studies Program and NELC/MEISP given the close historical, linguistic, regional, and religious relationships between Hebrew - Jewish and Arabic - Islamic cultures. Currently, JSP offers an undergraduate major or area certificate in Jewish Studies with minors in Hebrew or Yiddish and a Ph.D. minor in Jewish or in Yiddish Studies, whereas NELC administers the M.A. and a Ph.D. degree in Hebrew.

      3. Relationship with the Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) 1943-
        Central Eurasia, the home of some of the world's greatest art, epic literature, and empires, is the vast heartland of Europe and Asia extending from Central Europe to East Asia and from Siberia to the Himalayas. The Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University took its present name in 1993. It was founded as an Army Specialized Training Program for Central Eurasian languages in 1943, then formally organized as the Program in Uralic and Altaic Studies (from 1956 to 1965) and later the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (from 1965 to 1993). The Department has long been one of the world's leading centers of academic expertise on Central Eurasia as well as the sole independent degree-granting academic unit staffed with its own faculty of specialists.

        As with the Jewish Studies Program, NELC/MEISP exhibits considerable cooperation and overlap with the Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) because both programs include areas that historically have been part of Islamic civilization and because both programs include language families that have been highly influenced by this civilization and are located throughout both the Middle East and Central Asia. CEUS currently teaches two major Middle Eastern languages (Turkish and Persian) as part of their larger commitment to cover languages spoken in Central Eurasia. The Altaic languages include the Turkic, Mongolian, and Manchu-Tungus groups. The first group (Turkic) includes three languages spoken in areas located within the greater Middle East region: Turkish, which is spoken in Turkey and its surrounding areas; Azerbaijani, spoken in Azerbaijan; and Turkman, spoken mainly in Iran and Afghanistan as well as in several Central Asian countries. The Indo-European languages include the Indo-Iranian branch, which can be divided into the Indo-Aryan (Indic) and the Iranian. The main modern Iranian languages include: Persian (Farsi), spoken primarily in Iran; Tajik, spoken primarily in Tajikistan; and Pashto, spoken primarily in Afghanistan.
    4. Brief overview of the collection
      1. History of the collection
        The collection has grown along with the university and the various changes in support of Middle Eastern Studies and covers, for the most part, research level materials with an emphasis on scholarly publications in culture, history and linguistics and on materials in the vernacular languages. The collection benefited initially from the purchase of several large private collections that contained the major reference sources and classical works in the field. In addition, from 1962 until 1980, the library benefited from what amounted to a sizable federal grant-in-aid as one of twenty-one research libraries that participated in cooperative acquisitions program run by the Library of Congress under the provisions of Public Law 480 (The Agricultural Trade, Development, and Assistant Act of 1954, as amended). This program allowed moneys owed to the U. S. Government to be spent overseas for the purchase of foreign publications, which were then distributed to the Library of Congress and U.S. research libraries. For a nominal contribution, library participants provided a buying profile that included all topics of research value. IU received Arabic materials from LC's office in Cairo from the beginning of the program until it was terminated in 1980. It also received Hebrew materials from LC's office in Tel-Aviv from 1964 until 1969, when the Israel program decreased its activity (finally ceasing in 1973).

        The Library of Congress has continued to provide a cooperative acquisitions program run along the same lines as the PL 480 program, but at a greatly increased cost to participants. Thus, from 1980 until 1997, IU continued to participate in this program for the blanket ordering of Arabic monographs and serials and with the revival of interest in Persian studies, joined the Iranian publications program from 1988 to 1997. However, as costs continued to rise and as the program became more inflexible, many libraries over the last decade (including IU) have transferred their approval and blanket order plans (in which a profile of types of materials wanted is provided to a book dealer who then procures publications that match this profile within a set of fiscal constraints) to commercial vendors who could do the job more efficiently and effectively. The majority of materials for the Middle Eastern and Islamic collection are now acquired by this means, with individual titles selected to fill in gaps as needed.

      2. Collection strengths and weaknesses
        The collection is integrated into the Main Library Research collection and consists primarily of printed monographs and serials in the three major vernacular languages of the area: Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian. Its scope encompasses all major scholarly publications related to those subjects that are included in IU's Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program.The bulk of the collection consists primarily of vernacular language materials located in the PJ (Semitic) and PK (Indo-Aryan) language and literature classifications on the ninth floor of the Research Collections in the Main Library and in the BP (Islam) classification on the fourth floor. In total, IUL holds approximately 42,000 titles (46,200 volumes) in Arabic, 14,000 titles (15,400 volumes) in Hebrew, and 4,000 titles (4,400 volumes) in Persian. . The collection subscribes to nearly three hundred periodicals in the field of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies .

        A core, specialized reference collection that covers Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and that consists of more than two hundred titles is integrated into the general Reference Collection. Most of the materials located in this core Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies reference collection, as well as additional titles, are included in an Annotated Bibliography of Arabic and Islamic Reference Sources in the Indiana University
        In addition, the Middle Eastern Studies collection contains a large number of works, primarily in English and European languages, that support the IU program in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies but that currently are funded by other collection managers. In particular, IUL holds over 27,000 titles in religious studies relating to Judaism, Islam, and Biblical studies, nearly 16,000 titles on the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and nearly 38,000 titles on the languages and literatures of the Middle East. Similarly, IUL holds approximately 1,500 titles (2,000 volumes) in Byzantine Greek and 7,000 titles (7,700 volumes) in Turkish.

        Until recently, the Middle Eastern Studies collection has consisted almost entirely of print materials supplemented by some microforms. For the past several years, we have been adding significant electronic resources, and anticipate major additions to the collection in this area in the near future as advances in technology and growing support from Middle Eastern scholars, governments, and private organizations result in the production of sophisticated online sources for the study of Islam and the Middle East. Currently, we have a number of Reference and Full Text Resources on CD-ROM such as the Encyclopedia Judaic, the Islamic Computing Databases, Ma'agarim: The Hebrew Language Historical Dictionary Project, and Middle East Abstracts and Index. In addition, we have four major online resources specifically devoted to Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies that are listed as Recommended Resources on the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Collection Home Page The first one, the Encyclopaedia of Islam,, is available on library workstations only; the other three are internet databases available to authorized IU Bloomington users (on or off campus) and include: Index Islamicus, Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian Studies, and Militant Islam.

      3. Subject areas emphasized or deemphasized
        The collection reflects the interdisciplinary nature of area studies and the linguistic-literary origins of the program. The greatest emphasis is on language and literature, history and folklore, with secondary emphasis on the humanities and the social sciences. There is very little emphasis on the natural or applied sciences, although there is a growing interest in global ecological and health issues.

      4. Collection locations
        Indiana University houses outstanding Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies library resources in both the Main Library and several specialized collections.
        1. Main Library
          The Main Library holds over 100,000 titles in various formats that are relevant to the region, more than half of which are in Middle Eastern vernacular languages.

        2. Lilly Library
          A significant number of rare books and manuscripts relevant to Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies are located in the Lilly Library.

        3. Archives of Traditional Music
          A significant number of recordings of Middle Eastern and Islamic music and materials about that music can be found in the Archives of Traditional Music

        4. University Archives
          The University Archives contains many reports of studies done by IU faculty, especially those done for U.S. Government agencies that deal with the Middle East.
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      The collection focuses on acquiring vernacular language materials, but also acquires English and other Western materials through a series of collaborative approval plans and a long history of cooperative collection development among the various subject and area librarians. The objective is to build and maintain a collection that includes all the major published source materials required to support graduate level research and teaching in the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program. Four languages dominate the contemporary Middle East: Arabic (spoken in its various dialects by approximately 165 million speakers worldwide, with Standard Arabic being the official language of some 20 countries); Hebrew (the official language of Israel, along with Arabic and English, and spoken by approximately 5 million people worldwide); Persian/Farsi (Western Farsi is the official language of Iran, spoken by over 24 million people worldwide; Eastern Farsi is spoken by around 7 million people, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while more than 4 million people, primarily in Tajikistan, speak Tajik Persian); and Turkish (has around 46 million speakers in Turkey and 61 million worldwide)
      Throughout its history, the primary focus of the collection has been on acquiring vernacular Arabic materials published in the Middle East. Its secondary focus has been on acquiring Hebrew materials published in Israel and Persian materials published in Iran. From a research point of view, Turkish materials must be included within the collection, but responsibility for acquiring these Turkish materials remains with Central Eurasian Studies. More and more, the responsibility for acquiring Hebrew and Persian materials has come to be shared with the related Jewish Studies and Central Eurasian Collections as their respective programs have become more inter-disciplinary. The collection also includes a significant number of Western language scholarly materials about Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies topics. English language works predominate and the responsibility for acquiring these materials is shared with the other area and subject collections, in particular: African Studies, Anthropology, Central Eurasian Studies, Economics, Fine Arts, Folklore, History, India Studies, Jewish Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Religious Studies.

      In general, the collection excludes materials in related languages that are primarily covered by other area studies collections, such as African Studies (Afro-Asiatic languages other than Arabic), Classical Studies (pre-Islamic Near Eastern languages), Central Eurasian Studies (Altaic languages, including modern Turkish and Ottoman Turkish), and Jewish Studies (ancient Hebrew and Yiddish). Similarly, it excludes materials in peripheral Middle Eastern languages that have not been taught or supported at IU on a regular basis such as Armenian, Coptic, Kurdish, Syriac (Assyrian), and Urdu. More specifically, the following exclusions by language group are made.

      Altaic Languages. All materials in these languages, including Modern Turkish and Ottoman Turkish are acquired as part of the Central Eurasian Collection.

      Ancient Near Eastern Languages. Materials in pre-Islamic languages generally are not acquired as part of this collection.

      Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) Languages. Materials in related languages such as Berber and Cushitic generally are acquired as part of the African Studies Collection.

      Indo-Iranian languages. Materials published in other countries and in related languages such as Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto, Tajik, and Sanskrit generally are acquired as part of the Central Eurasian Studies and India Studies Collections.

    2. Geographical areas covered and excluded
      A wide variety of geographical regions is covered in greater of lesser depth depending upon the comparative strengths of the programs and interests of the faculty. The focus is on those core areas within which the Islamic civilization arose and developed and which generally are designated as forming the modern Middle East.

      Covered :
      Israel, Palestine, and the West Bank
      Saudi Arabia
      United Arab Emirates

      Afghanistan: covered for English language materials by the anthropology, economics, folklore, history, political science, sociology and religious studies collections.

      Pakistan: covered for English language materials by the anthropology, economics, folklore, history, political science, sociology and religious studies collections.

      Turkey: covered by the Central Eurasian Studies collection.

    3. Chronological periods covered and excluded
      The collection covers the period from the beginning of Classical Arabic Literature around 500 C.E. until the present. In general, the intent is to provide materials that cover the history of each of the various cultures involved in the area for the entire period.

    4. Dates of publication of materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage
      The emphasis is on acquiring current publications at a research level, with intermittent acquisition of primary sources and classic editions to fill gaps in our collection when such materials and the funds to purchase them become available.

    5. Formats collected and excluded
      The primary formats collected are print monographs and serials, plus online electronic databases, journals, and reference sources. Non-internet accessible electronic formats, such as single workstation CD-ROMS, are acquired only when unique and extremely important. Microforms and reprints are acquired primarily to fill retrospective gaps or when they are the only format available. Other media, such as videos, are acquired very occasionally on MEIS funds, but most often on the Media fund.
  3. Collecting Responsibility
    The Librarian for Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Central Eurasian Studies is primarily responsible for the collection of the materials in the vernacular languages of the areas covered. The librarian collaborates closely with all members of the Subject and Area Librarians Council (SALC).

  4. Related Collections
    The most closely related collections are those of African Studies, Anthropology, Central Eurasian Studies, Government Publications, Fine Arts, Folklore, History, Linguistics, Political Science and Religious Studies.

  5. Principal Sources of Supply and Major Selection Tools
    Currently, most English language monographs materials are acquired through Blackwell's Book Services as part of an IUL social science and humanities approval plan while most other Western European language monographs are acquired through an area studies approval plan with Harrassowitz. Similarly, Western language serial subscriptions have been consolidated through EBSCO wherever possible.

    For the wide variety of vernacular language materials collected, a number of commercial vendors have been utilized for firm orders and periodical subscriptions, including: A. I. Weinberg (Jerusalem, Israel), Iranbooks, (Bethesda, MD), Jerusalem Books (Jerusalem, Israel), Leila Books (Cairo, Egypt), Mid-East Books (Austin, Texas), and Sulaiman's Bookshop (Beirut, Lebanon).Blanket order/approval plans currently in effect include:

    • Arabic (Leila Books, Cairo, Egypt).
    • Hebrew (Jerusalem Books, Jerusalem, Israel).
    • Persian (Saeed Damadi, Tehran, Iran).
    Numerous exchange relationships have been established in the past and proposed for the future but many of these have lapsed because of conditions in the areas covered. The strongest continuing exchanges continue to be with institutions in Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

  6. Preservation
    1. Criteria for selection for preservation and/or mass deacidification
      The following criteria for selecting materials for preservation and/or mass deacidification apply: the condition of an item's binding and paper; the availability of replacement copies; and the level of likely use. Materials published on acidic paper from approximately 1850 to 1980 are especially vulnerable and should be considered for mass deacidification.

    2. High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment
      The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies collection at IUL-B contains many materials published in the vernacular, national languages of the regions covered. Most of these items are not widely held and they include many unique or rare titles that would be difficult to replace. In addition, they often have been published with acidic paper and poor, cardboard bindings. A survey needs to be done to identify these materials and the treatment they need.
  7. Selection Criteria for ALF
    1. Monographs that are fully cataloged in IUCAT will be sent to ALF, if they:
      1. were published before 1821; or
      2. were published before 1995 and have circulated less than 4 times (all copies combined); or
      3. are duplicate copies of monographs published before 1995 (even those with high circulation rates). One copy in the best condition will stay in Main.
    2. Periodicals before 1990 that are fully indexed in one or more online abstracting, indexing or full-text databases to which IUL subscribes will be sent to ALF -- primary examples include:

      Academic Search (EBSCO)
      ATLA Religion Database
      Historical Abstracts
      Index Islamicus
      Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts: LLBA
      MLA International Bibliography
      Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian Studies
      Periodical Contents Index

    3. Monographic series and sets will be kept together

    4. Materials of a reference nature, such as biographic and literary dictionaries that can be used effectively only by browsing will be retained in Main
  8. Digital Projects
    1. Criteria for selection for digitization
      1. Materials that need to be preserved and for which digitization would be the best option.
      2. Materials that are unique or rare to Indiana University and that should be more readily available to researchers around the world.
      3. Materials, such as major runs of journals or newspapers and major indexes or abstracts, that would expand access to a broad range of other materials.
      4. Materials that are locally incomplete, but that could be combined with related materials at other research libraries to create a significant
    2. Priorities for collections to be digitized
      1. Materials in immediate need of preservation
      2. Large runs of materials whose digitization would free up stack space.
      3. Materials that are currently least accessible and most needed in the subject field by researchers around the world.
  9. Other Resources and Libraries
    There are approximately twenty-eight research libraries (including the Library of Congress) in the United States that collect Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies materials. Fourteen of these libraries are part of universities with programs in Middle East Studies that the U.S. Office of Education has designated as Title VI National Resource Centers. These include: Emory University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Ohio State University, New York University, Princeton University, University of Arizona, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, University of Utah, and University of Washington. Indiana University's program is not among these fourteen, but IU does have three National Resources Centers in closely related areas: the African Studies Program, the Russian and East European Institute, and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center. See the Office of Education list of National Resource Centers (NRCs) and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) Programs for details

    Three research libraries with major collections in Middle Eastern Studies are not part of universities: the Center for Research Libraries, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library

  10. Consortial Agreements
    1. Exchange and gift agreements
      We periodically receive exchange lists or gifts from organizations in Arab countries and from Iran. Organizations that have sent us exchange lists or gift monographs and subscriptions within the last five years are included here.
      1. Iran
        • The National Public Library of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Anahita Alley, Africa St., P. Code 19176, Tehran, Iran
        • The Public Library of Ayat Allah al-Uzma Marashi Najafi, Qom 37157, Islamic Republic of. Iran.
      2. Arabic Countries
        • Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, P.O. Box 65131, Almansouria, 35652, Kuwait.
        • Office of the Minister of State, P. O. Box 2088, Manama, Bahrain.
        • Al-Nadi al-Adabi al-Thaqafi (Literary and Cultural Club), P. O. Box 32535, Jeddah 21438, Saudi Arabia
    2. Cooperative collection development
      Over the years, collection managers in the Indiana University Libraries at Bloomington have discussed cooperative collection development with several other academic librarians in the Midwest region whose institutions have significant collections of Middle Eastern materials. These discussions have not resulted in formal cooperative collection development agreements and procedures, but have helped to clarify how the various institutions' collections overlap and complement each other. Changing local program requirements continue to drive collection development, regardless of holdings at other libraries, and no systematic comparison of collection strengths among the various libraries concerned with Middle Eastern materials has been made for many years.

    3. Consortial collection development
      The Indiana University Libraries is a member of the Center for Research Libraries, which manages a number of consortial microform projects for various area studies programs. The relevant program for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies is the Middle East Microform Project (MEMP), which was established in 1987 by the Middle East Librarians Association purpose of the Middle East Microform Project (MEMP) is to acquire cooperatively microform copies of unique, scarce, rare and unusually bulky and expensive research material pertaining to the field of Middle Eastern studies; and to preserve deteriorating printed and manuscript materials of scholarly value.

      The geographic coverage of MEMP includes materials from or on the Arab countries, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and other related areas not covered in other cooperative microform projects.

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Home Page

Revised April 2012

last updated: 4/24/2012