General policies and principles for the Library's collections are stated in the General Collection Development Policy.  


Purpose of the Collection

The Middle Eastern Studies (MES) collection supports research and instruction for the Program in Middle East Studies to the level of the BA degree and for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES). CMES does not grant any degree, but coordinates faculty research and students through the PhD level in several departments in the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Division of Social Science (most notably, Religious Studies and History) who emphasize the Middle East in their studies. Middle Eastern Studies at UCSB is truly interdisciplinary and courses cover the Middle East in its broadest sense.



The major collection emphases are history, literature, language, culture, and religion (primarily Islam, but also other faiths originating or practiced in the Middle East including early and eastern Christianity, Judaism as it relates to the region, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, Yazidism, Mandaism, and heterodox sects). Politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, feminist studies, performing arts, music, and fine arts are also collected (the last two usually in consultation with Music and Arts Librarians)

Geographical Coverage

The collection encompasses the region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from Afghanistan to Morocco and Middle Eastern peoples and Muslims in the diaspora. Islam in South/Southeast Asia, the Balkans, Central Asia, and Sudanic Africa is also collected, but to a lesser degree.


Scholarship and translations primarily in English, but also in French and German (major research languages in the field) are collected. Spanish and Italian are collected to a lesser degree. Other European languages are collected as needed. Primary and some secondary material in regional languages is acquired. Because of the program and departmental language emphases and the volume of publishing, Arabic is the most heavily acquired language. Hebrew (modern and Biblical) and Persian are also collected as important languages of research. Turkish and Syriac/Aramaic are collected at a more basic level.

Chronological Limits/Period Coverage

Ancient to contemporary.

Publication Dates and Places

Collection emphasis is on current publications, but retrospective publications are acquired as needed and when available. Materials published in North America, the Middle East, and Europe are acquired.

Types of Materials Collected

Printed monographs form the bulk of the MES collections. Journals are also an important part of the collection. The preference is always to acquire journals and reference resources in electronic format. The Library regularly purchases DVDs of documentaries on and/or from the Middle East and feature films in Middle Eastern languages; CDs are usually acquired by the Music Library, but occasionally by MES. Textbooks are usually not collected except for the most important language instruction textbooks and area surveys that fall within the bounds of scholarly authorship.

Systemwide and Other Resources

The MES collection benefits greatly from the library’s participation in serials and research databases that are licensed by UC’s California Digital Library and funded by the UC campuses. In addition, The Library is also a participant in CALME (California Middle East Librarians) which was established to facilitate cooperative efforts among librarians with Middle East collection responsibilities. CALME has an active exchange program and UCSB’s MES collection has benefited greatly from the largesse of major Middle East research collections such as UCLA, UCB, and Stanford University.

The Library is an active member of MEMP (The Middle East Microforms Project). MEMP is a joint effort by member research libraries and CRL to promote the preservation of publications and archives concerning the Middle East and North Africa. MEMP's materials are housed at the Center for Research Libraries and available for the use of UCSB patrons.

Related Collection Development Policies


Subject librarian: Meryle Gaston
Policy Last Updated: June 2015