Collection Development Policy


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.

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 (NES).


Holdings Description and General Collection 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 and Islam. We collect both trade and scholarly materials, including books, serials, government documents, audiovisual items, etc. The Library's collection on the Middle East and Islam is currently estimated at over 80,000 titles, housed mainly in Olin Library. Materials selection is based on the following criteria:

1. Subject:

The collection covers virtually all subjects relevant to the study of the Middle East and Islam. 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*.

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 .

*n.b.: Not all of these subjects are covered in every geographical area, nor is each subject evenly represented within each subject area.

2. Languages:

Material in Arabic and English are collected most heavily. Persian, Turkish (Modern and Ottoman), French and German titles are acquired actively, but selectively. 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.

3. Geographic Area:

For the purposes of Cornell Library's Middle East and Islamic Studies, the geographic areas covered include: 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.

Historians, political scientists, and others have defined world regions in terms such as race & ethnicity, culture, language & linguistics, religion, historical unity, climatic similarity, and / or geographic compactness. One of the first questions encountered by anyone who wants to study the region is what the "Middle East" is, specifically what countries it involves. There is, however, a lack of consensus on one single definition of a region that after all stretches over three different continents; and people even refer to it variously by such terms as "Near East," "Mideast" or "Middle East." In modern times, the designation "Middle East," was applied by Westerners who viewed the area as midway between Europe and East Asia, which they call the Far East. There is at least agreement over the view that the Middle East is more than a mere geographical concept and that there are compelling historical, cultural, religious, political, social, and economic reasons for considering it as an entity apart.

It is not, for example, the land of the Arabs (millions of Turkic, Indo-European, and Negroid peoples live in the region). It is not even, as many presuppose, the land of Islam (in terms of population and territorial size, the largest Islamic countries are outside of the traditional boundaries of the Middle East. Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan all have larger Muslim populations than any country in what we call the Middle East). Historically (most of Iberia was under Islamic control for the better part of 700 years, and most of the Balkans for almost as long) neither Spain, Portugal or Roumania a Middle Eastern country. Hence:

The Core

Bahrein; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Palestine; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Turkey ; United Arab Emirates (federation comprised of seven sheikdoms: Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qawain); Yemen

The Periphery

.The Caucusus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia;

.Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan


.Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania)

.Maghreb: Algeria, Libya, Morocco & the Western Sahara, Tunisia

.Sahel & Sudan: Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan

.South Asia: Afghanistan, Pakistan

4. Chronological Limits:

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.

5. General Considerations:

The lack of regular national bibliographies for many of the countries covered, and the unorganized book trade, is compensated for through our participation in the Middle East Cooperative Acquisitions Program of the Library of Congress (MECAP). Further selection of individual titles in the vernacular is based on dealers' lists, and a small percentage comes as gifts or on exchange. Emphasis is on current materials. Manuscripts and theses and dissertations from other universitites 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. For practical purposes the following issues are observed when making decisions related to materials selection and acquisitions:

  1. Procedure:
    All purchases with library funds are made by the acquisitions and serials departments through which all requests for purchase pass.
  2. Serials:
    A serial is a publication issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals, newspapers, annuals, and journals. Selection of serial titles is based on the same criteria as monographs. Serial titles are reviewed every four years for continued appropriateness to the curriculum. Serials are purchased in microform under the following circumstances:
    1. Poor condition of existing copy or lack of availability of hard copy
    2. Space restrictions.
    3. Projected use
  3. Editions and translations:
    When several editions of a work are available, decisions are based on format, editor, and date. New editions, including translations, are purchased when they substantially update or improve on previous ones.
  4. Replacement:
    Materials withdrawn are not automatically replaced. Replacement depends on the number of copies held by the library, existence of similar material in the collection, potential use, etc.
  5. Multiple copies:
    Additional copies will be purchased for use as part of the general collection only when justified by the significance of the material involved and program enrollment.
  6. Non-Library purchases:
    Materials for collections outside the library's jurisdiction and management, and materials needed in campus offices and classrooms, are not purchased with library funds.
  7. Gifts:
    Gifts may be accepted on the condition that the library be permitted to dispose of them or add them to the collection at its discretion.
  8. Weeding:
    When evaluating an item for possible removal, the essential issue is whether the item has significant potential for use by the Cornell community. If an item is judged not to have such potential, it should be removed to make room for resources that do.

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Collecting Levels

Literature output from and about the countries of the Middle East and North Africa is disproportionate from one country to the other. Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran are among the more actively represented. In our selection endeavor we attempt to cover as many areas as necessary, attempting as balanced coverage as possible within the confines of the budget. Our increased participation in the Library of Congress Middle East Cooperative Acquisitions Program has allowed us to consolidate our coverage in several areas and expand into new other ones. Over the last few years, the Cornell Middle East and Islamica collection improved substantially in quality and quantity. The following evaluations, based on the subject breakdown of LC classification system and by country, are limited to the major areas of the collection as disscussed above.

Collecting Levels : The RLG Conspectus (a system of collecting levels developed The Research Libraries Group)

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Acronyms Used :

ECS: Existing Collection Strength

CCI: Current Collection Intensity

F: Selected foreign language material included, primarily Western European in addition to the English language material.

W: Wide selection of foreign language material in addition to the English language material.

Y: Material is primarily in one foreign language.

X: Material in English and language(s) of the country.

N/A: Not Available category/Not covered.

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Current Collecting Policy for Middle East/Islam by Major LC Class Number and Evaluated Using RLG Conspectus

LC Class Definition ECS CCI
AI [Indexes] 3W 3+W
AP [Collections of monographs, essays, etc.: Arabic, Persian, Turkish] 3Y 4Y
AE [Encyclopedias and dictionaries-general] 3W 4W
AM [Museums] 2F 2F
AP [Periodicals] 4W 4+W
B [Philosophy, Islamic] 4W 4+W
  [Philosophy, Arabic] 4W 4+W
BP1-BP610 [Islam, Bahaism, Theosophy, etc.] 4W 4+W
BX100-BX189 [Eastern churches. Oriental churches] 3F 3F
CD [Archives; History] 2W 2W
CT [Biography] 4W 4W
DS35.3-DS326 [History of the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Ancient Orient, Asia] 4W 4W
DS350-DS375 [History of Afghanistan] 3W 3+W
DT43-DT346 [History of North Africa: Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, the Western Sahara] 3W 3+W
GR270-300 [Folklore] 2W 3W
GR343.5-350 [Manners & customs] 3W 3+W
HA4551-4737 [Statistics. Statistical data] 3W 3W
HB126.3 [Economic theory] 3W 3W
HC415.15-HC415.4 & HC471-HC499 [Economic history/Economic conditions] 3W 3W
HD8556-HD8570.6 [Labor] (Arabic language predominates; ILR collects on the subject) 2W 3W
HE800-HE801.8 & HE87.3-HE876.6 [Transportation and communication] 2W 2W
HF2296-HF2310.2 & HF2421-HF2427 [Commerce and foreign trade] 3W 3W
HG, HJ [Finance; Public finance] 2W 2W
HN781-HN787 & HN656-HN670.2 [Social history and conditions] 4W 4W
HQ; HT [Family, societies, human settlements] 3W 3+W
HX440.5-HX443.5 & HX376.5-HX385.2 [Socialism, Communism, Anarchism] 3W 3W
JQ1758-JQ1852 & JQ3189-JQ3339 [Political institutions and administration] 4W 4+W
JV8739-JV8762 [Emigration and Immigration] 3W 3W
JX841-JX850 [Foreign relations] 4W 4+W
KBL ; KBP 1-4855 [Islamic law] (Religious law and commentary, unrelated to specific countries. The Law Library collects on country specific legal matters and Islamic law (shari'a law) as it relates to its current legal application in civil and criminal matters in specific countries). 4+W 4+W
L615-L649 & L686-L967 [Education, general] 3W 3W
LA [History of education] (Further topics related to education are collected by Mann Library). 3W 3W
M [Music] Music of the ME and NA, history of music, musicology, etc. are collected by the Music Library. Some materials are occasionaly selected and acquired, on exchange or through LC Field Offices for the Music Library. N/A N/A
N [Fine Arts]Art of the ME and Islamic art are collected by the Fine Arts Library. Materials dealing with literature and art history of the area are collected at a 3W level by the Middle East Librarian, if the emphasis is more on the literary. N/A N/A
PJ6001-PJ7876 [Arabic philology and literature] 4Y 4Y
PK6001-PK6820 [Iranian/Persian and Afghan philology and literature] 3Y 3Y
PL201-PL396 [Turkish language and literature] 3Y 3Y
PN1008-PN3050 [Turkish Drama, Motion pictures] 3Y 3Y
R128.3 [Medieval medicine] 3W 3W
R143 [Medieval medical history] (The History of Science selector collects also on the subject) 3W 3W
U620-624 [Military science, Turkey] 2W 2W
U680-U684 [Military science, Egypt] 2W 2W
Z3009-3040 & Z3651-3685.2 [Bibliography] 3W 3+W

Evaluation of Coverage by Country 
(Literature about the countries and from the countries listed)

Afghanistan 2+F 3+F
Algeria 3W 3+W
Cyprus 3W 3W
Egypt 4W 4W
Iran 4W 4W
Iraq 4W 4W
Jordan 3W 3W
Kuwait 4W 3W
Lebanon 3W 3W
Libya 3W 3W
Mauritania 2W 2W
Morocco 3W 3W
Oman 2+W 3W
Qatar 3W 3W
Saudi Arabia 3+W 3W
Sudan 3W 3+W
Syria 4W 4W
Tunisia 3+W 4W
Turkey 4W 4W
United Arab Emirates 3W 3W
West Bank and Ghaza 4X 4X
Western Sahara 2W 2W
Yemen 3W 3X

[Acronyms & Symbols]

Country Codes for Library of Cogress

Library of Congress Overseas Offices


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