Blog Posts

With more than one million print books in our collections, along with hundreds of thousands of ebooks, it can be hard to figure out where to begin. In this section, we’ll regularly take a deeper dive into the Library’s collections to learn a bit more, including exploring history through the items in our Heritage Library. We’ll also feature other topics that explore various aspects of our Library. All of the items linked below are either available for members to check out or viewable online. Enjoy!

Persian manuscript poem dated 1914, from our Heritage Library collection


Ramadan is a time for reflection about Islam and what it means to be Muslim. Though some answers can only be found from within, you can enhance your understanding of Islam, its history and its practices through the Library’s online collection of ebooks and audiobooks. We have numerous items in both Arabic and English that can help you on your journey this Ramadan, which you can access through the Online Resources page on our website.

Some of our top recommendations are:

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islam, marking the revelation of the Quar’an to the Prophet Muhammad. In the month of  Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and other specific activities during the daylight hours. This self-denial comes with an important purpose: through deprivation, observers achieve a higher level of mindfulness and consciousness about God, re-examine their habits, and gain empathy for others who have less.

This brass astrolabe (Diameter 13 cm) was made in approximately the 13th century CE in the Andalusian city of Valencia, modern-day Spain. Astrolabes were, in essence, early computers, used to tell time, perform surveying, locate the direction of Mecca—in short, to determine one’s location in time and space. They used a series of interlocking brass plates, which, when aligned according to the engraved symbols, gave astronomical readings.

William Gifford Palgrave (1826 – 1888) was a British Jesuit who was the first Westerner to accomplish a sea-to-sea crossing of the Arabian Peninsula. Disguised as a Syrian Christian physician, Palgrave traveled from Syria through present-day Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, publishing his narrative upon his return to Europe.