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About the C. V. Starr East Asian Library

The Starr Library

Berkeley’s C. V. Starr East Asian Library contains one of the most comprehensive collections of materials in East Asian languages in the United States. Its combined holdings, totaling over 900,000 volumes in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other East Asian languages, make it one of the top two such collections in the United States outside of the Library of Congress. Construction of the Starr Library, the first freestanding structure built to house an academic East Asian collection on an American university campus, was completed in the fall of 2007. The Library opened to the public in the spring of 2008.

The Library’s mission is to support the teaching and research needs of the Berkeley campus by providing information services in the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, professions, and to a lesser extent in the natural sciences and technology. The Starr Library also serves faculty and students throughout the UC system, institutions and individuals outside the University of California, and the wider world of scholarship through on-site access, interlibrary loan, document-delivery agreements, and on-line databases.


Berkeley’s East Asian collection was seeded by the deposit in 1896 of John Fryer’s Chinese library, which Fryer later bequeathed to the University. Other early gifts and acquisitions, beginning with the Kiang Kang-hu library in 1916, the Horace G. Carpentier Endowment in 1919, and the E. T. Williams collection in the 1920s, sustained the quality and distinction of the library at a time when Berkeley was almost alone among American campuses in offering a broad program in East Asian studies.

The East Asiatic Library (renamed “East Asian” in 1991) was established in 1947 as a branch within the University Library system. By the early 1950s, the Library’s Japanese holdings ranked first among American university collections due in large part to the acquisition of 100,000 items from the Mitsui Library and the 8,850-volume Murakami Library. Since the early 1950s the East Asian Library, together with the Library of Congress, has been one of only two depositories in the United States for Japanese government publications.

The Center for Chinese Studies Library began as an off-campus reading room under the auspices of the Center for Chinese Studies in 1957. Eventually it became affiliated with the Institute of East Asian Studies, relocated to campus, and developed into one of the largest academic repositories of materials on contemporary China outside China.

In 2008, the East Asian Library and Center for Chinese Studies Library merged and integrated their collections in the C. V. Starr East Asian Library. The merger consolidated Berkeley’s Chinese language holdings; the move into new quarters improved accessibility to the entire collection and ensured that the Library would have room for growth in the coming decades. It also provided the technological infrastructure and facilities that will allow the Library to address the scholarly community’s needs into the twenty-first century.

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Document maintained by the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Berkeley CA 94720-6000
Last updated 07/20/09
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