The Islamic Studies library was founded, along with the Institute of Islamic Studies by Prof. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, in 1952. The library has grown from a modest departmental collection to a very well regarded library of over 150,000 volumes striving to cover the whole of Islamic civilization. This sizable and rich collection is quite unique in Canada. It is one of the 12 branches of the McGill Library and provides resources and services to support the teaching and research programs primarily of the Institute of Islamic Studies. The library is also a major resource for other McGill students and researchers in such areas as History, Political Science, and Comparative Religion, as well as bona fide researchers of other Quebec and Canadian universities. The library is open to members of the general public for consultation. The library is located in the Morrice Hall building.
The Islamic Studies collection comprises materials in print, electronic and microfilm, manuscripts, serials and audio-visual materials in European and Islamic languages: English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Russian on the one hand, and Arabic, Persian, Turkish (Ottoman and modern), Urdu and Indonesian, on the other. The collection is the reflection of the academic interests of the Institute, and teaching and research in Qur'anic Exegesis, Jurisprudence, Philosophy, Theology, History of Sciences, Sufism, Shi`ite Thought, Classical and contemporary Literature and History and Modern Developments in Muslim world. As well as instruction in the various languages (Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Urdu) have shaped the nature of the ISL's development.
The ISL is a research library and it houses a collection intended to be of primary use to graduate and post-graduate students, as well as to faculty, with a reference section at its centre. Materials are accessible via the McGill Library Catalogue.
The ISL has 992 periodical and serial titles, many of which are complete sets, no longer published or rare. Examples include: The Oriental Collections (London, 1797-1799), Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College Magazine (Aligarh), Ma'ârif (Azamgarh), and Ma'lûmât (Istanbul).
Other McGill Resources
The Humanities and Social Sciences Library includes much research material of relevance. Of special interest are its rich back files of scholarly periodicals in the social sciences and humanities disciplines. In addition, there is a considerable quantity of history and social sciences publications dealing with regions where Islam has acquired importance. Considerable interest in Middle East politics and History, especially in Israel and Palestine, has resulted in an accumulation of publications on these subjects. There is alsomaterial on Middle East archaeology, geography, including travellers accounts, guidebooks, etc. The same is true of holdings relating to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Rare Books and Special Collections holds a variety of materials of interest to the students of Islamic Studies. As of November 2009, the RBSC houses the majority of the manuscripts, lithographs, codices, and leaves (Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Malay, etc...) pertaining to Islamic Studies owned by McGill University. Moreover, the RBSC also maintains a collection of early European printed books on the Middle East and Islam.
The Marvin Duchow Music Library holds a number of works on and records of Middle Eastern Music.
The Osler Library of History of Medicine houses a sizable number of printed works and manuscripts (Arabic and Persian) on Islamic medicine, medieval and contemporary.
The Nahum Gelber Law Library houses some works relating to the statutory, business and commercial law of the Middle East.
The Center for Developing Area Studies Library has a small collection of materials relating to contemporary issues in the Middle East.