The Institute of Iranian Studies has a specialized research library of currently (2018) about 20.000 volumes. About half of the books are in Persian, with these including both primary and secondary sources. In addition, the library has a collection of books in Arabic on historical, juridic, religious, philosophical etc. topics. The majority of the books in the library’s collection, especially the books in Persian, are not available anywhere else in Austria. This is also the case for most of the secondary literature in other languages.
The main holdings of the research library are the following.
- Works on history, in the broadest sense, constitute the largest part of the Institute’s library. The history of Oriental Studies and Orientalism and historical theory and methodology – with some particularly strong areas such as Persian diplomatics – form the framework of the historical section. Historical sources and accounts of Iranian history include pre-Islamic history, including works on archaeology and findings from Iran and Central Asia and works on the history of Iran since Islamization until the contemporary period. The library also has a number of special works on regional and urban histories, Persian travel literature, as well as an extensive collection of Persian memoirs from the 19th and 20th centuries.
- The literature section contains works on Persian literary studies, classical Persian poetry and epics, and modern Persian literature, both in Persian and in translations, as well as representative collections of Kurdish and Tajik literature. A section is devoted to Western literature translated into Persian.
- The linguistics section covers Old, Middle and New Iranian languages and non-Iranian languages of the Middle East and Central Asia.
- A substantial collection of books on art history includes works on the architecture, arts and crafts of Iran and the Islamic world.
- Books on and from Central Asia and Afghanistan are a special focus of the library, covering a large number of subjects, including languages, history, literature, etc.
- Another special section is devoted to the (historical) geography of Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as travelogues.
- Primary texts and academic studies on Islam, especially on Shi’a, on Islamic political thought and on Sufism complement the library.
- Bibliographies, manuscript catalogues, encyclopaedias and general reference works.
- Periodicals and series, including some rare Persian periodicals.