Although the Aga Khan Library is relatively young, the idea underpinning its development started in 2008 when the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) and The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) relocated to the same building in central London. These two institutions continued working with independent libraries that were both housed in the same facilities while keeping separate strategies, collections and staff. In 2014, to better serve the community of researchers, students and teaching staff, the libraries merged into what was unofficially known as the Joint IIS-ISMC Library; a library combining two priceless collections to facilitate research in Islamic studies.
The Aga Khan Library came into existence in 2018, once it opened to the public in the newly built Aga Khan Centre. Since 2018, the Library offers access to more than 52,000 volumes; in state-of-the-art facilities for students and researchers, from within and outside its parent institutions, to conduct research on the most varied topics within the field of Islamic studies.
The subjects covered by the Library collections include religion and philosophy, history, social sciences, art and architecture, literature, education, science and medicine. The focus of the collection, however, is Islamic studies in general, Ismaili, Shi'i and Qur'anic studies together with materials covering all the Muslim civilisations, past and present, and especially the Muslim diasporas around the globe.