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Mainly concerned with the history of the early Indo-Iranian languages and their literatures, Sir Harold Bailey's Library was built up over many years and also covers the whole of the Indo-European language family.

On the Indian side there is extensive material relating to Vedic, the language of the Vedas, Late Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, as well as the Prakrit languages, including Pali, the language of the early Buddhist scriptures. There are also select materials covering the literature of most phases of this development. Another special interest was the spread of Buddhism and the translation of Buddhist texts in Chinese, Japanese, the Southeast Asian languages, Tibetan, Mongol, Korean and Turkish.

The Iranian languages are also fully covered, starting with sections on Avestan, the ancient language of the sacred texts of the followers of Zoroaster, on Pahlavi and on other Middle as well as Modern Iranian languages. In this context there are good collections of books dealing with Central Asia and Afghanistan, including a select series of books in Russian.

The section on Zoroastrianism includes a number of early printed works.

The Bailey Library also includes books on the Caucasian languages including Georgian, Armenian and Ossetic, a substantial number of books on Classical Greek and Roman languages and civilization and a short section devoted to books on Hebrew and the ancient Mesopotamian languages.

There is a section on the history of script and writing systems, as well as reference books on General Linguistics, together with short but carefully chosen collections of books dealing with the remaining Indo-European languages and their literatures, including Baltic, Celtic and Hittite.