Since the institution's inception in 1961 the acquisition policy has resulted in a wide and varied collection. The library responds to the specific needs of the researchers working at the institute. Material is gathered in Western languages, also in Arabic, and occasionally in Persian and Turkish.
The library's collection gives particular attention to Islamic faith, thought and law, and covers the history of the Middle East as well as Social and Political Studies related to the region. The library also features a wide range of material from the sciences, philosophy, the arts, geography, as well as an impressive body of travel literature.
In response to Lebanon’s religious pluralism, the institute cultivates a growing collection of works treating not only Shi’a Islam, but also Eastern Christianity.
Arabic literature is also collected with great care, giving proof of a long-standing commitment to both classical and contemporary literary production.
The library has always made a special effort to respond to its immediate environment, thereby compiling a large body of Lebanese literature across various genres and themes. This applies to the literary traditions of neighbouring countries as well.
The collection’s emphasis on Semitic philology should also be highlighted, with Akkadian, Aramaic, and various Ethiopian dialects especially well-represented in the library.
All this is supplemented by academic literature from various associated disciplines, including political science, ethnology, and sociology.
Lastly, one of the Orient Institut’s richest resources is its periodicals collection; it boasts 1700 academic journals spanning politics, religion, and culture, as well as several literary magazines based in the Middle East. This rare and unusually comprehensive collection makes the library of the Orient Institut Beirut competitive at a German national as well as at an international level.
Additionally six newspapers are being collected as well as a growing number of CDs and DVDs.