The library of the Institute for Palestine Studies was established at the same time as the Institute in 1963. It was set up with the aim of achieving some of the principal goals of the Institute for Palestine Studies: the preservation of Palestinian intellectual and cultural production, and the collection of documents and research on the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict in its various phases and developments.
Over the years, the Library has increased its acquisitions and expanded its role, to the point that it is now a unique resource for research and scholarship on the Palestinian cause. The library collections include a wide range of basic reference works, books, and periodicals, in Arabic, English, French, and Hebrew. The library's collection places a particular emphasis on Palestine, its population, history and society, as well on the political, social, military and economic aspects of Israel.
In addition to monographs in a number of languages, the collection includes basic reference works, encyclopedias, yearbooks, bibliographies, official reports, dictionaries, atlases, and statistical surveys. The collection also includes rare books, including books issued by the British Mandate authorities in Palestine, volumes produced by the World Zionist Congresses, the official newspaper and rules and regulations issued by the mandatory government of Palestine.
The library occupies four storeys in the Institute for Palestine Studies headquarters in Beirut, and comprises over seventy-nine thousand volumes, in addition to hundreds of periodicals and newspapers. In 1984 a decision was taken by the Institute for Palestine Studies Board of Trustees to name the library in honor of Constantine Zurayk, one of the founders of The Institute for Palestine Studies and its honorary president for a quarter of a century, in gratitude for his years of service and scholarship. In 2006, the Center for Information and Documentation was founded and the Library became an integral part of the Center. Also connected to the Center is the website of the IPS and its digitized information which is designed to function within the framework of the Institute’s mission. Since its inception, the mission of the Center for Information and Documentation has been three-fold: to preserve the Palestinian cultural heritage, historical memory, and intellectual production;
to monitor developments concerning the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict by collecting published material and performing archival work;
to make all these resources accessible to the public in the most efficient way, using standardized library tools and information technology.
The acquisitions of the library have kept pace with the various developments in the Palestinian cause over the past 38 years. Its collection covers history, politics, economics, as well as social and military affairs; it extends chronologically from Palestine at the dawn of history to current global developments. Thousands of scholars, journalists, diplomats, and military personnel, of various nationalities, have visited the library's premises in Beirut. Some of the library's visitors travel great distances to make use of its unique collection.
In addition to providing direct services to its visitors, the library's staff also responds to a range of inquiries from scholars concerning sources of information and research tools. These services extend to scholars and researchers outside Lebanon, and include providing bibliographic information to students all over the Arab world, especially those without access to adequate scholarly resources, in Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, and elsewhere. In so doing, the Institute for Palestine Studies library regards itself as fulfilling a national mission that goes beyond the normal duties of a scholarly institution. The library also collects archival materials and documents related to the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, which are compiled and catalogued by the library staff and made available for consultation by scholars. Periodically, the library issues a list of its recent acquisitions, which can be viewed online.
Since 1995, the library has become fully automated and its catalog is now available electronically, thereby rendering the card catalog obsolete. Instruction in the use of OLIB software is provided for visitors.
The library devotes special attention to the acquisition of Arabic books, periodicals, and newspapers issued in the occupied territories, as well as new and recent publications issued in Israel. Books in the library are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal Classification system, and the library uses the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and the Library of Congress subject headings. The subjects have been translated into Arabic for use in classifying Arabic books.
Although most of the library's acquisitions are purchased using the annual budget allocated to it by the Institute for Palestine Studies, in addition to gifts and exchanges, the IPS Library owes a great deal to a number of individuals and groups who have generously donated their own private libraries, or those sections of their libraries devoted to the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict. These individuals and groups have regarded the Institute for Palestine Studies Library as the natural repository of their collections, and the place where these collections will be best preserved and utilized. All such donations are gratefully received and duly acknowledged.
The library contains a broad range of periodicals and newspapers in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, and Hebrew. Some of these are purchased by subscription, while others are acquired as gifts or exchanges. The library staff indexes all journal articles related to its areas of specialization.
Official Documents of International and Regional Organizations
The library contains a section devoted to documents related to the Arab-Israeli conflict issued by the United Nations and its agencies since 1947, as well as documents issued by the Arab League and its committees, which are sent to the library on a regular basis.
The library contains a valuable collection of Palestinian newspapers and periodicals issued before 1948, as well as newspapers issued in the occupied territories, in addition to international, Arab, and Israeli newspapers on microfilm. Its microfilm holdings also include the proceedings of the World Zionist Congresses, and some university theses.
The library acquires masters' and doctoral theses related to the question of Palestine, as well as Israeli and Zionist issues.
The library includes a large collection of rare documents pertaining to Palestinian political leaders, national committees, and political parties, consisting of personal papers, memoirs, minutes of meetings and conferences, and photographs. In addition to original handwritten documents, the library also holds numerous copies of original documents that are found in other collections. These documents constitute a rare resource and have been collected from various original sources.
The library also contains rare collections of photographs, documentary films, and maps of Palestine and its towns and cities. The map collection includes maps of the occupied territories published by the Israeli government. The library is working on expanding its collection of audiovisual material.