Islamic Libraries: A Short History

by Laurent Ferri on August 19, 2020 · Rare Book Exhibits

Kitab al-Fihrist

This video highlights the early and spectacular development of public, semi-public, and private libraries in Islamic land between the 10th and the 18th century, from Spain to India and from Timbuktu to Sarajevo. A lecture by Laurent Ferri (Curator of pre-1800 Books and Manuscripts, Cornell University Library).

Selected bibliography:

ATIYEH, G. N. (ed.), The Book in the Islamic World, New York: SUNY Press 1994.

BEHRENS-ABOUISEF, D., The Book in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (1250-1517), Leiden: Brill 2018.

BOGENG, G.A., Die grossen Bibliophilien. Geschichte der Büchersammler und ihrer Sammlungen, Leipzig 1922.

ECHE, Y., Les Bibliothèques arabes publiques et semi-publiques au Moyen-Âge, Damascus 1967.

ERÜNSAL, I., The Development of Ottoman Libraries, Belleten 60 (1996), p. 93-125.

ESTABLET, C. and PASCUAL, J.P., Les livres des gens à Damas vers 1700, in Revue du Monde musulman et de la Méditerranée 88-9 (1999) p. 143-72.

FEBVRE, L. and MARTIN, H.-J., L’Apparition du livre, Paris: Albin Michel, 1958.

HANNA, N., In Praise of Books: A Cultural History of Cairo’s Middle Class, Syracuse UP 2003.

HERSHENZON, D., Traveling libraries : the Arabic manuscripts of Muley Zidan and the Escorial library, Journal of early modern history, vol. 18 (2014).

HIRSCHLER, K., The Written World in the Medieval Arabic Land, Edinburgh UP 2012.

NECIPOĞLU, G., KADAFAR, C. and FLEISCHER, C. (eds.), Treasures of Knowledge: Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4), Leiden and Boston: Brill 2019.

POWERS, D., Law, Society, and Culture in the Maghrib, 1300-1500, Cambridge UP, 2002.

SABEV, O., İbrahim Müteferrika Ya Da Ilk Osmanlı Matbaa Serüveni, İstanbul: Yeditepe, 2006.

SAJDI, D., The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in 18thC. Ottoman Levant, Stanford UP 2013.

SEZGUIN, F., Geschichte des Arabischen Schriftums, Leiden: Brill 1967-2000.

TOUATI, H., L’Armoire à sagesse. Bibliothèques et collections en Islam, Paris: Aubier 2003.

About the author

Laurent Ferri Curator, pre-1800 Collections Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Kroch Library (Cornell)

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