Islamic Librarianship: A Bibliographic Survey

Dr. Mohamed Taher

Abstract    Primary Sources    Secondary Sources

Abstract: The subject of the area of study, called Islamic librarianship, has a lot of literature, both in print and online. However, many issues are yet to be discussed, probed and clarified. Hence this bibliography.

For instance, the available literature refers to a twin title, scholar-cum-librarian. This position is called sometimes as book-keepers, scribe, and sometimes as Warraqeen, singular warraq / librarian. Whatever the name, this person played a distinct role in the evolution of these libraries. It is not clear which role of the above twain dominated, was it scholarly or librarian's hat. And, another question is: Whether this person, had a) role of information provider, and b) displayed neutrality (meaning, secular) in collection development as well dissemination or was influenced by the predominant (main stream or sectarian) religious ideology. Again, was the librarian working as: a) disseminator of the religion (as in dawah / calling / inviting towards the religious' best practices) or b) served as a religious missionary (Minister in Christian terminology). And, whatever was the role type, did theology play any part in this role playing. In other words, does Islam views theological librarianship as a calling or not.**** An answer to this is yet to be ascertained.

In order to facilitate the above purpose, a brief bibliography relating to the theory and practice of Islamic libraries and Islamic Librarianship, as it has evolved is listed below. It covers English language material appearing in a variety of formats (print, online, etc.). While this is a first attempt to create an exclusive online version, I do have a bibliography with my article: The Book In The Islamic Civilization and in my book: Islamic Librarianship (Studies in Librarianship series, Delhi, Anmol Publications, 1997).** Whereas, an analytical bibliography, that is comprehensive and up-to-date, requires special funding and universal approach. I am looking for such a funding & / or collaborators.

The purpose of this survey is, then, to identify two types of sources, viz., primary and secondary. Primary sources, here, are those that deal with theory, ideas, concepts, etc. These sources deal specifically with the foundations as interpreted based on Islamic theology, philosophy, society, culture, etc. Secondary sources, here are, surveys, reports, reviews and narratives of historical and current trends in library world that specializes in Islamic / Muslim resources. Note: This survey makes no attempt to list or index libraries of Islamic / Muslim literature. 

Acknowledgement: This bibliography has grown with the support of friends, such as, Dr. Alireza Noruzi, Donald G. Davis, Jr., Dr. M. Makki Sibai, Dr. Roderic Vassie, and many others. Those whom I am indebted, also include academies and research centers that helped me gather data about Mosque libraries, Madrasah Libraries, Qanqah Libraries, so on and so forth.


Primary Sources:

Ekere, F.C. "The contribution of Islam to the spread of literacy and development of libraries during the rise of Islam in the Middle East, North Africa and the West African Sudan," Library Scientist 10 (1983) 101-19 

Inayatullah, Shaikh "Bibliophilism in Medieval Islam", Islamic Culture, 12:2, 1938, 154-69. 

Jamil, Muhammad Faris. Islamic Wiraqah stationary during the early middle ages. Ph.D Thesis, Michigan State University, 1985.

Khan, H A., "Islamic bases for the Theory of Librarianship and Information Services", COMLIS, Malaysia, 1986. 

Mahmud, Khalil (1971), "Influence of the Holy Quran in the development of libraries", Nigerian Journal of Islam 1, pp. 11-22.

Oli Mohamed Abdul hamid, "Islam, Knowledge and Librarianship", COMLIS, Malaysia, 1986. 

Rizvi, S. Mohammed Hussain, "Islamic Bases for the Theory of Librarianship", COMLIS, Malaysia, 1986.

Sardar, Ziauddin. 'The Civilization of the book', in Ilm and the revival of knowledge. (1999) (also in SARDAR, ZIAUDDIN (ED.): How We Know: Ilm And The Revival Of Knowledge. Grey Seal, London, 1991) (see also additional reference)

--- Information and the Muslim world: a strategy for the twenty first century. London: Mansell, 1988.

Sibai, Mohamed Sibai. An historical investigation of mosque libraries in Islamic life and culture. Ph.D. Thesis. Indiana University, 1984. [revised and published as: Mosque libraries. London: Mansell, 1987]. See my review in LIBRARIES & CULTURE 27(1):43-48. See Also: Citation Index

Smith, W.C., "Islamic Near East: Intellectual role of Librarianship", Library Quarterly 35 1965, 283-294. 

Taher, Mohamed, “Islamic view of education and training of library manpower: Trends and prospects,” in Islamic Librarianship (Studies in Librarianship series: volume 1). New Delhi : Anmol, 1997: 31-60

Secondary Sources:

Adams, Roldah. Historical development of Islamic libraries internationally and in South Africa : a case study of the Islamic Library in Gatesville. 2003. [A minithesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Magister Bibliothecologiae, in the Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape]. (M. Bibl. minithesis, Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape)  Read the fulltext

Ahmed, Syed Sajjad, Web Resources for Catalogers:  An Examination of Cataloging Department Home Pages, 10th Annual Conference PowerPoint Presentations (2004),

---Managing change to enhance Web-based services in the Arabian Gulf libraries. Online Information Review, 26 no. 4 (2002): 265-70

Ali, Saara A. Planning and Managing Special and Islamic Libraries. (10 April, 2002)

Aman, Mohammed M., “Library and Information Systems in The Arab States: After the War,” Journal of Information Science 18 (1992). 

Ashoor, Mohammed-Saleh Jamil, and Chaudhry, Abdus Sattar. The education of Library and information professionals in the Arabian Gulf Region. London, Mansell, 1999.

Atiyeh, N. George. Ed. Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word, and Communication in the Middle East. State University of New York Press., 1995

BenAicha, Hedi. 1986 Mosques as libraries in Islamic civilization: 700-1400 A.D. The Journal of Library History, 21(2) : 253-260.

Blak, Corinn, “Teaching Islamic Civilization with Information Technology”, Journal for Multi Media History, (1998) v. 1 no. 1.

Chepesiuk. Ron (January 2002) ‘Special News Report: September 11 and Its Aftermath: Muslim-American Librarians Reflect’, American Libraries, pp. 40-43

Coleman Jr., Sterling J. Librarianship and Information Science in the Islamic World, 1966-1999: An Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Diwan, Muhammad Rustam Ali, "Muslim contribution to libraries during the medieval times", Islam and the Modern Age 9, May 1978 pp. 19-34.

Dohaish, Abdul Latif. 1987. Growth and development of Islamic libraries. Islamic Quarterly, 31(4) : 217-229.

Elayyan, Ribhi Mustafa, "The history of the Arabic-Islamic libraries: 7th to 14th centuries", International Library Review 22, 1990 pp. 119-135.

--- "On the history of the early book-keepers", Al Watheeka / Al-Wathiqa 30, 1996 pp. 197-180 [Alian (Elayyan?) , Ribhi Mustafa]

Erunsal, Ismail E. (1985), “Medieval Ottoman Libraries”, ERDEM, 1(3), 745-754.

Ferahian, Salwa, Thibaudeau, S. and Leide, J. E., "Teaching library-skills to graduate students from the Islamic countries: cooperation between librarians and second-language specialists", Middle Eastern Library Association Notes 62, 1995 pp. 48-51.

FSTC Limited.  Al-Azhar University – 1000 years of scholarship. 2001.

Gaibie-Dawood, Akeela.  Islamic Library: history, activities and statistics.An-Nuha: Islamic Library 10th anniversary commemorative journal. 1997. September.

---  The birth and maturity of the Arabic-Islamic book and development of Arab literature in Arabia and throughout the Muslim world. Boorhanol Islam, 34(1) 1999.: 41-45.

Haider, S. I, "Bibliographical heritage of Muslims", International Library Review 29 (1979) pp. 207-218.

Hamadeh, Mohammed M. Islamic libraries during the Middle Ages. Ph.D. Thesis. The University of Chicago , 1962.

Hamdulay, Showket. Islamic library kicked out. Muslim Views, 1991 August : 4-5.

Haron, Muhammed. A Window into the world of personal and community libraries: case studies from the Cape Muslim community. Current Writing, 13(2): 2001, 56-65.

Harvey, John F. and Musavi, Shahr Azar. Tehran mosque libraries and a comparison with American Christian Church Libraries. International Library Review, 13: 1981, 385-395.

Imamuddin, S M. Hispano-Arab Libraries. Karachi , Pakistan Historical Society, 1961. 

--- Arab writing and Arab libraries. London: Ta Ha Publisher, 1983

--- Some leading Muslim libraries of the world. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Islamic Foundation, 1983.

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Kabir, Mafizullah, “Libraries and Academies During the Buwaiyhid Period_946 to 1055 A.D.”,Islamic Culture, 33(1) (1959), 31-33.

Khan, Kabir A.  “Organization and Administration of Libraries in the Islamic World”, Islamic Culture, 55(2) (1981), 123-129.

Khuda Bukhsh, S, "The Islamic Libraries", The Nineteenth Century and After, 52 July 1902, 125-139.

Krek, Miroslaw. Islamic libraries: 7th to 17th centuries. In: World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. 3rd ed. Chicago: American Library Association. 1993. p. 394-395.

Lerner, Fred, “Libraries of the Islamic world”, in The story of libraries: From the invention of writing to the computer age. New York , Continuum, 1998.

Mackensen, R. S. "Arabic books and libraries in the Umaiyad period", American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 52 (1935-36) pp.245-253, 53 (1936-37) pp.239-250, 54 (1937) pp.41-61, 56 (1939) pp.149-157.

--- "Background of the history of Moslem libraries", American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 51 (1934-35) pp.114-125; 52 (1935-36) pp.22-33, 104-110.

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Meho, Lokman I. and Nsouli, Mona A., Libraries and information in the Arab world: An annotated bibliography. Westport , CT. , Greenwood , 1999. 

Merlet, Shukrieh R. Islamic libraries of the Middle East. Libri, 39(2): 1989, 127-140.

Monastra, Yahya. Libraries. In: The Oxford Encyclopedia in the Modern Islamic World. Vol. 3. New York : Oxford University Press, 1995. p. 2-4.

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Sepehri, Abazar, "First Conference of Islamic Librarians" Middle Eastern Library Association Notes 27, 1982 pp.16-18. (West Lafayette, 1982.)

Siddiqui, Rashid, "The intellectual role of Islamzing Librarianship",American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 5:2, 1988, 275-278.

State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.Libraries respond to national disaster”, 2001.

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---Bibliometric analysis of the literature of the field of Islamic studies, Ph.D. Thesis. Calicut Univ., 1989 (published as Quantitative Study of Islamic Literature, 1994). See also: My resources: Bibliometric (or Quantitative) Studies in the field of Islam... 

--- *** Islamic Librarianship. (Studies in Librarianship series, volume 1). New Delhi , Anmol, 1997. 363 pp. Details

---Librarianship and library science in India : An outline of historical perspectives. New Delhi, Concept, 1994. (co-author: Donald G Davis). ; reprinted in Studies in librarianship

---“Madrasa Libraries in India : A Case Study of Nadwat al-Ulama, Lucknow ,” pp. 112-127, in Handbook of Libraries, Archives and Information Centers in India , vol. 9, edited by B.M. Gupta, (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1991); reprinted in Studies in librarianship

--- Mosque libraries: a bibliographical essay. Libra ries & culture (Austin, Texas: Univ. of Texas Press) 27 (1992),1, 43–48; reprinted in Studies in librarianship

--- and others. Dargah Libraries in India: A Comparative Study. International Library Review, v18 n4 p337-45 Oct 1986; reprinted in Studies in librarianship

Thompson, Lawrence S. Moslem libraries (Medieval). In: Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science .Vol. 36. New York: Marcel Dekker, 1983. p. 363-377.

Wheeler, Brannon M., "Transmission of Muslim Knowledge: Past Traditions and new technologies", Symposium Research Papers, Islamic Information Sources, Riyadh , 1999.

Wilkins, Lesley. ‘Islamic Libraries to 1920’, in Encyclopedia of Library History. Garland, (1994).  pp. 296-306.

Zahoor,, A. QUOTATIONS ON ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION – (Western intellectuals are quoted) , by. A. Zahoor, (1999) (last visited February 28, 2002)


[**** the inquiry I received from a librarian-cum-researcher:

At the moment I am gathering papers and articles and have not had a chance to read through them all yet. I am using keywords or subject headings of theological librarianship to locate them in my searches. From what I have read, it seems there are mixed views of the Christian view of theological librarianship. Some people say that working in a theological institution as the librarian is no different to working in any other institution as the librarian, others say that it is a ministry to be working in a theological institution, especially if you share the same faith as that institution. It is a ministry in that some feel they have been called by God to work there in the librarian role, that it is part of their calling to help further the gospel to be the librarian and assist with the training of others to spread the word of the gospel. I hope I am making myself clear “ it is a little difficult to explain. As far as the Islamic view of theological librarianship goes, I am after papers/articles etc that discuss whether or not Islam views theological librarianship as a calling or not. I am not familiar enough with Islam to know if calling is the right word to use but I hope you understand what I am trying to locate]

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How to cite this article:
Taher, Mohamed (2006), "Islamic Librarianship: A Bibliographic Survey," 
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