Collections at the East Asian Library

A visitor looks at art on the wall
A visitor looks at items from the Paul Fonoroff collection hanging at the C. V. Starr East Asian Library. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small for the UC Berkeley Library)



The Library’s collections concentrate on the humanities and social sciences. Materials range from full-text electronic databases, books, periodicals, and newspapers, to block-printed maps, manuscripts, rare Chinese, Japanese, and Korean imprints, and rubbings of some of the earliest inscriptions in the Chinese tradition.

The Library traces it origins to the deposit in 1896 of the private library of John Fryer, the university’s first holder of the Agassiz Chair of Oriental Languages and Literature. Other early gifts, such as the library of Kiang Kang-hu, the Horace G. Carpentier Endowment, and the collection of E. T. Williams, expanded the size and scope of the core collection.

The C. V. Starr East Asian Library possesses some particularly noteworthy special collections. The 100,000-volume Mitsui acquisition brought to Berkeley a handful of smaller collections, including the Asami, Teihyōkaku, Gakken, Motoori, and Sōshin collections. The Asami Library contains 4,000 volumes of classical Korean imprints and Korean manuscripts, including a fine manuscript of the 18th-century anthology of Korean poetry, Haedong kayo, compiled by Kim Su-jang. The Chōhyōkaku collection of Chinese rubbings, which has been augmented by the East Asian Library over the years, is one of the largest and richest collections of its kind outside East Asia. The Gakken collection is noted for its kanshibun (Chinese verse and prose written by Japanese literati). The Motoori and Sōshin collections are rich in woodblock editions of the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. The Mitsui acquisition also included approximately 7,000 manuscripts and some 2,500 early Japanese maps.

The Ho-Chiang collection of Buddhist sutras in manuscript and print documents the development of Buddhism in China, Japan, and Korea. The Mongolian and Manchu collections include an exceedingly rare 17th-century work, Tai sang-ni acabume karulara bithe. Among the pre-1949 xylographs of the Tibetan collection is a body of Tantric texts of the Nying-ma-pa sect and an 18th-century Narthang edition of the Kanjur section of the Buddhist canon.

The 8,850-volume Murakami Library is almost without rival even in Japan. Dedicated to belletristic writing of the Meiji and early Shōwa periods, the collection includes a large number of first editions, of particular interest not only for the illustrations and bindings, but also for the prefaces not reprinted in later editions. This and the collections above are housed in the Starr Library’s Fong Yun Wah Rare Book Room. The library’s rare holdings range in subject matter and date from oracle bones of the Shang dynasty (17th–11th century BCE) to political posters of the Cultural Revolution.

Materials formerly in Berkeley’s Center for Chinese Studies Library and now in the Starr’s general collection provide a rich resource for the study of contemporary China: over 1,800 contemporary films on 4,000 discs; 6,000 volumes of provincial and local gazetteers; and, in the series Wen shi zi liao, over 11,000 volumes of first-person accounts of political movements, military actions, and economic conditions that China witnessed between the last years of the Qing dynasty and the early decades of the People’s Republic.

The library also has extensive holdings in various non-print media — audio and video cassettes, microform, and CD-ROMs— and a growing offering of electronic resources. 

Special collections

  • John Fryer Collection
  • Chinese Rubbings Collection
  • Japanese Historical Maps Collection
  • Murakami Collection
  • Asami Library
  • Japanese Manuscripts Collection
  • Sugoroku Collection
  • Tompkins-Cushing Chinese Posters Collection
  • Chee Kung Tong Archive
  • Fonoroff Collection for Chinese Film Studies
  • Sugoroku Collection
  • Mitsui Tinies Collection
  • Copperplate Print Collection, 1855-1920
  • Single-sheet Print Collection, 1756-1940
  • New Age Novels of the Late Qing Dynasty
  • Ho-Chiang Collection
  • Meiji Era Songbooks
  • Mongolian Collection
  • Manchu Collection

At other libraries

National Library of China's 國際敦煌項目International Dunhuang Project 

IDP is an international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles, and artifacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available. Number of images in the IDP was 495,238 as of Sept. 30, 2016.

中国古代典籍 Chinese ancient books

Contains 178 e-books in Confucian classics, history, philosophy, and literature.

上海之窗电子书 E-books in the Digital Library of Shanghai

There are 10,059 e-books from literature, art, culture, science, education, sports, history, geography, language, philosophy, religion, politics, law, economics, industrial technology, and environmental science in this collection. Access is limited to UC Berkeley affiliates.

上海图书馆馆藏家谱全文选览 Chinese genealogy

So far, 3,036 genealogical records have been digitized and more will be added to the collection.

大学数字图书馆国际合作计划 China Academic Digital Associative Library

More than 2,500,000 electronic books, journals, and newspapers comprise this collection. Access is limited to UC Berkeley affiliates. Registration (free) is required.

古籍與特藏文獻資源 Rare books and special collections in the National Central Library Taiwan

Consists of rare books in full-text, including 375 titles from UC Berkeley, 5,000 rubbing images and a Genealogy Catalogue. Access is limited to UC Berkeley affiliates.

政府公報資訊網 National Central Library Gazette Online

Contains over 60 gazettes published since 1912, of which 18 gazettes are from ministries and commissions under the Executive Yuan and have been integrated into the Executive Yuan Gazette since January 2005.


The National Diet Library, Japan has 352,663 e-books in this collection as of Sept. 30, 2016, that are freely available to the public.

Rare books and old materials

Rare books and old materials including arts, maps, and plans that total 76,995 items.

官報 Official gazettes

Includes 20,951 official gazettes from the Japanese government freely available to the public.

Materials on the Allied occupation of Japan

Contains 37,141documents and records from between 1910-1959 related to the Allied occupation of Japan.

Korean Old and Rare Collection Information System

This is a union catalog of Korean rare books and manuscripts that includes over 450,000 bibliographical records and provides access to the full text of approximately 42,000 items from 60 Korean institutions and 37 foreign institutions at the National Library of Korea.

RISS International (학술연구정보 서비스)

This is an integrated system to provide access to full-text articles available through KISS and Dbia, as well as full-text dissertations.