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Arabic Language, Linguistics & Literature

A guide to Arabic language and literature resources.

Library Catalogs

Ebook Collections

Tips for Finding Arabic Books

Lauinger Library has an extensive collection of books, periodicals, videos, and other materials in Arabic, all of which are listed in HoyaSearch. To search only Georgetown's holdings select GU ONLY as a search limit; to find books in the entire consortium limit to Consortium+GU+Articles. Below are some strategies for identifying relevant items:

I. Searching By Topic

Keyword searching is a good way to begin searching for new terms or to combine concepts:

  • Islamification
  • Globalization and Egypt

When you find relevant titles, view the full record in HoyaSearch to see the assigned Subject Headings to find additional related resources:

  • Iraq -- Foreign relations
  • Arabic fiction -- Syria
  • Qaddafi, Muammar -- Political and social views
  • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

* See below for hints on searching Arabic names and titles 

NOTE: These English-language subject headings are assigned to books in all languages.

II. Hints for Searching Arabic Names and Titles

1. When searching romanized/transliterated Arabic words or names in the library catalog (HoyaSearch), you do NOT need to include diacritics (dots/lines over/under letters, apostrophes indicating ayn or hamzah, etc.)

2. If a family or "last" name begins with "al-", do not include the "al-" in your search key.

al-Masudi → Search under Masudi


  • If the person's name is well-known in English and s/he prefers to include the "al-"
    • Faruqi, Ismail R. → Al-Faruqi, Ismail
  • When "al" (with alif maddah) refers to "tribe" or "people"
    • Al Saud, Al Bu Said, etc.
  • When it is not the first part of a name
    • Abd al-Aziz, Ibrahim

3. When searching titles which have "al-" before the first word of the title, skip the "al-" of the first word only, as you would skip the article (a/an/the) in English. Do include "al-" when it is attached to subsequent words.

Title: al-Kitab al-addad fi kalam al-Arab → Search under: Kitab al-addad fi kalam al-Arab

4. Names of persons or corporate bodies (organizations, ministries, etc.) which are very well-known in the West may be entered in the catalog under the form of the name as it is best known in English:

  • Abd al-Nasir, Jamal → Nasser, Gamal Abdel
  • al-Qadhdhafi, Muammar → Qaddafi, Muammar
  • al-Munazzamah al-Arabiyah li-Huquq al-Insan → Arab Organization for Human Rights


  • Mahfouz, Naguib → Mahfuz, Najib
  • Palestine Liberation Organization → Munazzamat al-Tahrir al-Filastini

You will often get a cross-reference (as above) but not always. If you do not find a name under one spelling (or language equivalent), try another, and sometimes you need to try several different ones. Still no luck? Email the reference librarians at

5. It's now possible to search for authors or titles in Arabic script. Only records for materials published after 2000 have information in both romanization and Arabic script. Searching exclusively in Arabic script will limit your results to only very recently published materials. 


If you are unsure of how an Arabic name or word would be romanized, it may be useful to type it in Arabic script, see how it is romanized, and then use the romanized form to search and ensure you find all we have under that name or word.

6. Consult the Library of Congress Arabic Romanization Table (see also here). This romanization system is used in all North American research libraries and in many outside North America as well.

7. All books in Arabic are shelved with materials in other languages, on the same topic(s). The call number arrangement begins with A on the First Floor of Lauinger and goes to Z on the Fifth Floor. Use this link to see maps of all floors of Lauinger Library.

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