About the Collection

The Oman Library at the Middle East Institute is known to have the largest English language collection of literature on the Middle East in Washington outside of the Library of Congress. It is estimated to house approximately 20,000 books and periodicals, all devoted to the region. Our collection holds materials in regional languages including Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Farsi. Works in the library include items addressing, among other topics, various aspects of history, culture, politics, literature, and languages of the Middle East, Islamic lands, and relevant regions which reflect and buttress our mission.

The collection at the Oman Library is a unique resource for scholarly information about the Middle East. The Institute defines the Middle East as those countries stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, including Turkey and the countries of Central Asia. It has valuable travelogues and other geographical works related to these regions. Perhaps the most unique and special aspect of our collection is that we offer materials that are not easily found elsewhere, including primary documents, hard-to-find periodicals, and rare books. Numerous items in our collection are one-of-a-kind pieces, with the Oman Library being the sole carrier of certain items

Explore the collection catalog here.

The General Collection:

The general collection at the Library specializes in current events, history, culture, economics, religion, politics, and languages of the Middle East. The Library has an especially extensive collection on Islam and Islamic art. Our collection includes books containing information on the following countries:

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

The items in the general collection vary in language, date, and provenance. Although most of the books are in English, there are many in Arabic. This collection also contains books and various resources in other western and oriental languages, particularly French, German, Turkish, and Persian, with some materials in Italian, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, and Polish. Among these are books printed in different corners of the Islamic world, including North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and India. Items in this collection typically date from the 1930s and extend to the present day.

The Oman Collection:

The Oman Collection is a special collection that houses a plethora of information regarding our generous benefactor, the Sultanate of Oman. The Oman Collection covers a variety of topics concerning Oman, including society, culture, politics, economics, and development. This collection also includes physical science information on Oman, with material covering flora and fauna, topography, climate, geography, and natural resources.

The Rare Book Collection:

The Rare Book Collection is a unique collection that contains materials that predate the 1930s. The items in this collection range in date and are mostly from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, with our earliest item dating from 1702. The Rare Book collection focuses on a variety of topics in the field of Middle East studies, addressing, among other topics, ancient civilizations, regional art and architecture, religion, culture, and societies peoples across the Arab and Islamic world. This special and invaluable collection is housed in a secured section of the library. Items must be kept in the library at all times to ensure their security and preservation.







Our collection of Journals is both large and diverse. Currently, we have approximately 200 different titles. The journals ranges in both date and time, with our earliest periodicals dating as far back as 1918. This collection covers a vast geographical territory, and includes the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. The topics and scope of the periodical collection range from broad topics such as international affairs, to very narrow subjects such as Japanese-Arab relations and Palestinian refugees. We continue to receive numerous relevant scholarly periodicals including Foreign Affairs, International Affairs, and the Washington Quarterly.






Reference and Ready Reference:

The Ready Reference Collection contains dictionaries and historical dictionaries of various countries and regions. Our collection contains historical dictionaries on countries from North Africa to the Middle Eastern core, and also includes Iran, Central Asia, the Sahara, and east Africa. This collection serves to provide quick and easy information on specific subjects. We also have historical dictionaries on various topics and peoples, including Islam, the Druze, the Kurds, the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the history of U.S./Middle East diplomatic relations.

The Reference Collection consists of an extensive collection of items, ranging in topic, language, and region of interest. We have a large collection of language dictionaries, which includes languages such as Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Indo-Aryan. We also host various dialect-specific dictionaries, including Syrian Arabic and Moroccan Arabic. Like the Ready Reference Collection, this collection contains items focused on specific issues and topics, such as the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Islam, and many others. Also housed in the Reference Collection are country-specific historical international documents and surveys.






Maps and Postcards:

Another exciting aspect of our collection our thousands of postcards from the travels of George Camp Keiser, the founder of the Middle East Institute. Mr. Keiser traveled the world, and the Oman Library was recently gifted thousands of postcards from his excursions abroad. Countries include but are certainly not limited to Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey.

The library also has a map collection, which focuses on the Middle East and neighboring regions. Our maps represent regions including the Persian Gulf, Horn of Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia. Our map collection also has maps of various countries from the region, as well as world maps.