The different collections which make up the library are rich and varied, and a valuable resource for researchers: it is estimated that around 20% of the library’s holdings represent the only copy of that item held in the UK.

Languages of items include Turkish, English, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, German, Georgian, Maltese, Japanese, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Hebrew, Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian.

The Library has a collection of rare books, which includes volumes from the early sixteenth century, some of which are stored in the Katharine Stephen Room of Newnham College Library

The library has grown through a combination of purchases, bequests and donations, and it holds a number of discrete special collections. These include the Judith Humphrey collection of books on Crete, and the Margaret Bainbridge collection of Turkish literature, folklore, and language material. The library also houses the Niyazi Berkes collection on late Ottoman and Turkish Republican history.