The need for Persian language libraries and centres for Iranian studies 

 In recent years much has been published worldwide, in Persian and other languages, about Iran and Iranian issues. As well as notable novels, plays, poetry and literary criticism, these publications have included books, reports and papers on historical, political and social subjects.  In order to give Iranians living abroad access to these valuable resources and to help them keep up-to-date with current publications from Iran, it is necessary to establish libraries and centres for Iranian studies which can be used by the general public as well as for academic research. The resources available are of particular value to Iranians traveling from Iran who wish to be kept informed of current cultural and political issues both at home and abroad. The libraries and centres also provide an invaluable service for non-Iranian students of the Persian language and culture. 

The founding of the Library for Iranian Studies 

Thanks to donations and the help and support of many members of the Iranian community, the Library for Iranian Studies in London was officially opened on November 16th, 1991. At that time the library consisted of 2,500 books and other publications and was housed in rented premises in Acton, London. The board of founder members of the library included:Mr Khalil Mahlouji, Farzaneh Mahlouji, Dr Homayoun Katouzian, Mrs Mojgan Farzaneh-Ghaemi, Mr Habibolah Jourbandi and Dr Mashallah Ajoudani.  The present board of trustees of the library includes: Mr Hossein Pour-Skandari, Dr Goel Kohen, Dr Namdar Baghaei-Yazdi, Dr Homayoun Katouzian, Mrs Mojgan Farzaneh-Ghaemi, Mr Habibolah Jourbandi and Dr Mashallah Ajoudani. 

New premises 

With the continued financial support of members of the Iranian community, less than two years after the initial inauguration, the Library for Iranian Studies was able to purchase freehold premises in Acton. And, after extensive renovation and decoration, the new and fully equipped library was ready for its official opening on April9th, 1994. To mark the occasion, works by the Iranian sculptor Mahmoud Mohammadi were unveiled. The works were commissioned by the library to pay homage to some of the key figures of Iran's rich cultural heritage. The permanent exhibition includes a bust of the Persian poet Ferdowsi and a number of bas-reliefs depicting Omar Khayam, Ibn-Sina (Avicenna), Nima Youshij,  Sadiq Hedayat, Forough Farrokhzad and Parvin Etesami. 

Current Status    

The library has currently a membership of approximately 3,000. On average 250-300 people use the Library per month. Since 1994, we have had on average 6 lectures per year. These lectures, which are either in Persian or English, are of cultural or scientific nature and the speakers are chosen from a range of prominent scholars and researchers around the world. (A selection of these lectures is shown below.)Also in the last 6 years, we held two Persian calligraphy exhibitions (Massoud Eftekhari and Yadollah Kaboli, both being masters of the Society of Persian Calligraphers), three painting exhibitions (Ahmad Sadr, Mahmoud Poupal and Bahman Forsi), and two book fairs (Iranian women writers and Robayat-e Omar Khayyam) at the Library. The number of students who attend the Persian language classes of the Library on Saturdays is between 30-40 per term.


The Library for Iranian Studies has not received financial help from any government, related organisations or local authorities. It is wholly independent and is funded through contributions from members of the Iranian community. Financial help is gratefully received without prejudice or influence. The names of individuals and cultural organisations that have given financial aid are listed at the library for public information. 

An independent library

The Library for Iranian Studies has no affiliations whatsoever with any political, cultural or religious organisation or group. Membership of the library is likewise open to anyone, regardless of race, religion or political persuasion.  The library aims to provide an atmosphere free of censorship in which publications, airing opinions and beliefs as opposed as Khomenini's Thesis and The Shah 's Revolution can be studied and discussed side by side.

Catering for all

The library's stock has grown considerably over the last few years. At present there are over 15,000 cultural and political books and other publications for public use. Although, in the main, these are Persian and other Iranian language publications, the library has also a growing collection of foreign language books and publications on Iran. It is also committed to increasing its stock of books for younger readers. For those people interested in academic research, particularly in Iran's contemporary history, the library's archives, which contain a wealth of political and cultural publications, documents, reports and statistical information, provide an invaluable service. Also kept in the archives are a number of old and rare publications which students and researchers are unlikely to find elsewhere.