Speakers of Arabic: I need some advice!

Hello, all! I’m a children’s librarian and am attempting to organize and update our Languages section. We have children’s books in 50 different languages, which is awesome! Unfortunately, the section was last updated quite a while ago and because of this many of the sections are very out of date.

The previous person to label the language sections used out-of-date or inaccurate language names on some of the sections. I’ve caught and fixed some labels with the help of coworkers and the internet, but my usual sources have failed me on this one.

We currently have an ‘Arabic’ section and a ‘Persian’ section, which contains at least one book with ‘Farsi’ on the cover. My question is this: is it appropriate to label the section ‘Persian’? Should I use ‘Farsi’ instead? Or should everything be put in the ‘Arabic’ section?

Thank you in advance for your advice!


Not native speaker here, but I wouldn’t suggest put everything into the same section because they are different languages. They might look similar because of the alphabet but sound completely different, so it would be confusing for any reader of any of those languages if they were looking for a book. :slight_smile:

That said, not being a native myself, I will pass the ball on “persian or farsi?” to someone with a better cultural understanding on those words.

Really nice of you for asking it, though. Hope you find answers soon. :slight_smile:


The language is called both Farsi and Persian (whatever you prefer, I think native speakers would rather go for Farsi as does a friend of mine who is Afghan and used to live in Iran while a German would use the term Persian instead) and it is definitely different from Arabic.


Same as other postcrossers said before, I wouldn’t suggest to mix Arabic and Persian/Farsi section. They are different languages, with different vocabularies.

About using label Persian or Farsi, I think @ipuenktchen could give you advice.


Thank you for the advice! Some of the things I ran across while trying to research this were very confusing - it’s so good to have a place to ask questions like this. :blush:

That’s really good to know, thank you!!

The local name for Persian is Farsi, the way Germans called their language Deutsche. So, you can go with either of the names.

Please don’t mix Arabic and Persian. They are different language with a common script. It would be like putting English and Spanish in one section because both are written in Latin script. :sweat_smile:


Thank you all for your help, I really appreciate it!! :purple_heart:

Everything is said before and @Carpe_Librum is current how to use. In case you have more questions pls feel free!


I know this is an old thread, so it might be futile for me to post here, but I’ll do it anyway.

A suggestion for book titles written with Arabic characters: would like to add Urdu to that list of languages. It should also be in a different category than Arabic or Farsi (Persian) because it is a totally different language. This may be c

Not to worry - we do have an Urdu section, and it is set apart from the others! Thank you for commenting on this :smile:

Oops, I hit the wrong button in my last post! It is confusing and tedious to take just a few books and create so many categories for them, I’m sure, but it really is helpful for your patrons. I’m glad someone already helped you with that.

Is it mostly children’s books you hold?

Also, (minor point) If you are organizing the Arabic books by Author’s name or Title, you should follow the Arab method of filing: names (or anything on an alphabetized list) should be filed without considering the beginning article. For example, for the name Zainab al-Ghazali, her last name is al-Ghazali and it is filed under G. Likewise for names that are written with “el” or “Al” or “El”. For example, the following list of prominent Islamic women in history is alphabetized:

Rabia Basri
Zainab al-Ghazali
Fatima al-Samarqandi
Rim al-Turkmani

It is - I work in a children’s library, so children’s books are entirely what we have! Our languages section has more than 50 languages in it, which I recently reorganized and tidied up (hence the question that sparked this post). Since there are several different naming conventions represented in the collection, we have organized everything by Dewey numbers - it makes it a lot more user friendly! It’s very good to know that tip about Arabic last names, though - thank you for letting me know. If we ever decide on a different organization I will certainly use it! :blush:

Im curious to know if you have a category of Tajik books? Basically, Persian and Tajik are the same language, but Tajik is written with Cyrillic alphabet.

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We don’t currently have any Tajik books, but that’s so interesting about the language! I didn’t know that. A lot of our collection comes from donations, since language books can be difficult and expensive to get and we… basically have no money, since we’re a public library. :sweat_smile: I’ll have to do some research and see if we have Tajik-speaking communities in the city so I can add them to my wishlist!

That’s great about using Dewey numbers for organizing – the alphabetical order is actually much more complicated than I discussed, but I just picked the most obvious aspect that would help Arabic users.

So impressive about the library! I occasionally teach Arabic to first generation American kids of parents who don’t want them to lose their native language. In my own collection of children’s books (mostly obtained in Jordan) I have a cartoon copy of the “The Sword in the Stone” – I’m not at home right now, so I can’t check if it is an official translation (many Arabic publishers don’t respect US copyrights). If Disney does indeed publish kids’ books in Arabic, then maybe you can appeal to them for a donation to your library – it can’t hurt to try, and I hope the Disney conglomerate makes donations every now and then!

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We do have some Disney books in various languages! They were donations, but I think from individuals rather than the company itself. It would be amazing if they would donate to us!

Your job sounds awesome!