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 100,000 volumes covering the whole of Islamic civilization. This sizable and rich collection is quite unique in Canada. It is one of the 13 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 can be divided into three major categories: printed, manuscript 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 primarily a reflection of the academic interests of the Institute, and teaching and research in Qur’anic Exegesis, Tradition, Jurisprudence, Philosophy, Theology, Sufism, Shi`ite Thought, History and Modern Developments in Muslim world, as well as instruction in the various languages, 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 post-graduate students and 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).
For a history of the ISL and its development see:
Swanick, Sean. “Islamic Studies Library: Growth and Evolution.” Fontanus from the Collections of McGill University XIII (2013): 95–104. Print.