library assets

The Library assets of PISAI is made up of a number of groups of documents:

Reading Room
Book Collections
Electronic Resources
Special Collections

The entire collection of material is subdivided into sections according to subject and covers the most important areas of the Islamic sciences:

Qur’an, Commentaries on the Qur’an, Islamic Tradition, Law, Theology and Philosophy, Mysticism, History and Geography, Linguistics and Literature, Sciences, Art and Architecture, Ethnology, Anthropology, Contemporary Islam, Bio-bibliography, Sacred Scripture and Christian Theology, Interreligious Dialogue.
The Library currently contains more than 38,000 volumes, one third of which are in Arabic, 900 periodicals, a further 250 which are rare or obsolete and 60 manuscripts in various languages. One section which is particularly important is devoted to Qur’anic studies which includes various editions of the Qur’an, the great classical commentaries and the more important collections of Hadiths.
The Library is regularly enhanced by the acquisition of important texts and of periodicals obtained through subscription or by exchange with different PISAI publications; in recent years, a number of interesting collections have been given by donors who have bequeathed them to the Library.
Thanks to the work of PISAI students, a further 270 monographic research studies containing translated passages by more than a hundred Arab authors, are included in the Library’s collection.


Reading room

At the disposal of its visitors, the reading room contains certain very important tools for study and research: dictionaries, grammar books, encyclopaedias in various languages, historical and literary works covering the Arab world and Islam, certain basic works of reference (Brockelman, Caetani, Wensinck…) and atlases. The Qur’an Section with the main commentaries and an Iran Section with works of the Shiite tradition are of particular interest. Users have easy access to the index of the licentiate theses of PISAI students and the index of periodicals.
In a wall display, the latest editions of the specialist journals and newly catalogued acquisitions can be consulted.

Three computer terminals are available for online catalogue consultation.
WIFI internet access is available in the room.
Furthermore, users have the possibility of accessing a number of electronic resources including numerous journals subscribed to and online consultation of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, second and third editions.

See the whole contents of the Reading Room


Access to the contents of the Library can be obtained by consulting online our OseeGenius catalogue on one of the computers in the Reading Room or, from outside, on the Pisai website.

In the  catalogue are found general bibliographic data and the call number of works to be found in the Reading Room, in the journal stacks and in the main book stacks. Information can also be found on the different special collections and the detailed referencing of all the articles which have appeared in PISAI publications.

Books and publications are displayed on open shelves in the Reading Room (marked with the letter R) or in the journals and book stacks (marked with the different classification letters). The latter two are not directly accessible by users. Material from the closed stacks can be consulted on request by completing the appropriate request slip at the circulation desk in the library.

For further information please call 0658392613 during opening hours.


The Library of Pisai holds a collection of more than 900 periodicals. Of these, about 200 are current journals which the Library receives in exchange, by subscription or as gifts. The vast majority of these periodicals cover PISAI’s area of specialization. As well as publications in Western languages, some 240 are in Arabic, others are in Persian and in Turkish.
Users have direct access to the latest issues which are displayed in the Reading Room. To view issues from previous years (kept in the journal stacks), complete the appropriate request slip at the circulation desk. Photocopies of articles may be requested in keeping with the regulations currently in force.

See the PISAI Periodicals Search Engine
See the National Periodicals Archive

Electronic Resources

The Library makes available from the Reading Room access to licensed e-resources.
To use these resources ask the librarians.

Risorse online (in abbonamento)

Encyclopaedia of Islam online – 2ᵃ and 3ᵃ ed

African and Asian Studies

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Die Welt des Islam


Intellectual History of Islamicate World

International Journal of Middle East Studies

Islam and Civilisational Renewal
Islamic Law and Society
Journal of Arabic Literature

Journal of Econ & Soc Hist of the Orient

Journal of Islamic Studies

Journal of Semitic Studies

Le Monde diplomatique

Pro Dialogo
Review of Middle East Studies
Shii Studies Review

Sociology of Islam

Studia Islamica

The Muslim World

Risorse online
(open access)

Arabic Poems
Archivi in DSpace

Centro Amilcar Cabral

Collectanea Christiana Orientale

DOAB Directory of Open Access Books
DOAJ  Directory of Open Access Journals


Mu‘ǧam al-babāṭīn li-šu‘arā’ al-‘arabiyya
OAPEN Open Access Publishing in European Networks
OpenEdition Books

Università di Enna “Kore”

Arablit quotidiani e periodici dal mondo arabo
Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques
Cahiers d’Asie Centrale

Fikrun wa Fann
Full Open Access Journals (Brill)

Glossarium Graeco-Arabicum
Hommes & Migrations  texte intégral : n. 1277(2009) – n. 1314(2016)

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies

Journal of Islamic Ethics
Rivista di Studi Indo Mediterranei
Se Comprendre
Studia Graeco-Arabica
Studia Orientalia Electronica
Sudanic Africa

Special collections

fondo-basso-pisai4.jpgBasso Collection
The Lelio and Leslie Basso Foundation came into being in Rome in 1973, the result of the amalgamation of the rich private library of Lelio Basso, a collection brought together during the time of his political and cultural activities, and the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Society created in the second half of the 1960s. The collection specializes in the study of historical, juridical, political and sociological sciences, with particular attention being given to the sources.
The collection contains books and periodicals in Arabic concerning the history of modern and contemporary political thought and that of the migrations of peoples, especially in the North African region.

fondo-cerbella-pisai.jpgCerbella Collection
The collection contains some 500 titles of great interest for orientalist and ethnographic research regarding the situation in Africa during the colonial period, especially in Libya and Ethiopia; it deals with the direct personal reports of the researcher whose field of interest lay in the traditions and customs of the region, as well as the anthropology and the cultural and religious development of the colonial and post-colonial period. The collection is also enhanced with numerous extracts from articles, documents and correspondence as well as manuscripts of this scholarly researcher.

fondo-faragalla-pisai.jpgFaragalla Collection
The collection, containing more than 200 most useful books for the study of Arabic literature and the history of religions, was given to PISAI by the two brothers of Prof. Sameh Faragalla, Sarwat and Michel.
Of Egyptian origin, Professor Sameh Faragalla, lecturer in Arabic at La Sapienza University in Rome, taught at PISAI from 1979 to 2009, devoting himself to presenting and analysing the Arabic language press and to the study of recorded texts used by the Institute as a valid teaching tool. The academic and educative guidance he gave and the quality of his presence were greatly appreciated by the students of PISAI.

fondo-horsten-pisai.jpgHorsten Collection
The Horsten Collection reflects the research and the areas of interest of Fr. Piet Horsten. A member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, Piet Horsten has been a member of the teaching staff of PISAI and has held the office of Chief Librarian.
After completing his studies for the priesthood, Piet Horsten studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of Nijmegen, enriching this classical base with general notions of linguistics and a theological approach to cultures and religions, and he obtained a doctorate from the SOAS University of London in 1978 with a search in linguistic anthropology. His studies led him to develop a deeper interest in translation, especially the translation of the Bible from Greek into Latin and subsequently to a broader study of the relation between religions and languages.This relationship could transform the meaning of some fundamental characteristics and elements of a language, or extend existing meanings, or create new words and expressions.

Categories of the Horsten Collection:

  1. Philosophy, generally or specifically ‘of language’ (among which formal logic etc.); general linguistics, past and present (in particular Structuralism).
  2. Systematic study of language, namely: phonetics, phonology, grammar (morphology, syntax, lexicology, semantics); ‘Schools’ of grammar (functional, generative-transformational, etc.).
  3. Use of language, namely: stylistics, literature, pragmatics, etc.; psychological aspects of the use of language (especially cognition); social / sociological aspects of the use of language (especially communication); language and religion.
  4. Applied linguistics, namely: not the linguistics linked to simply such and such a theory but rather one acting as a tool for transferring from descriptive to contrastive linguistics.
  5. Studies in translation; general theory, translation of the Bible in particular.
  6. Various groups of languages: African languages, Arabic, others.


The Library also has in its possession the work of students presented to fulfil the requirements at the conclusion of their course of study at PISAI:
The Licentiate in Arabic and Islamic Studies
The Doctoral Degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies

The Licentiate Thesis is a work of methodological and critical analysis of an Arabic author; this comprises the translation of a previously untranslated text from Arabic into a Western language. In this work, linguistic knowledge acquired during the previous years of study is applied and this is backed up with a critical study of the translated text. The texts chosen, which have never been previously translated, are kept by the library and made available as material for study although they remain under the restrictions applied to ‘non-published material’.
The Doctoral Thesis, however, requires the student to produce a scientific piece of work which, through his choice of a text of an unknown or little-known author, will make a substantial and original contribution to the field of research.
The Library also boasts a collection of Licentiate and Doctoral Theses not obtained at the Institute but pertinent to the field of research. These are given by undergraduate and postgraduate students who, in researching and writing up their work, have consulted sources in the library.

See the index of the licentiate theses
See the index of the doctoral theses



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