Due to major building activity, some collections are unavailable. Please check your requests before visiting. Learn more.
Watch our Introduction to the Asian Language Collections webinar for an overview of collections, search strategies and highlights from the Chinese and Japanese collections.
Asian Study Grants
The Library’s Asia Study Grants program provides researchers and PhD students with the opportunity to research the Library’s Asian language and Asia-related collection, where scholars have privileged access to collection materials, facilities and staff
The National Library’s Chinese collection is a rich source of information on the history, culture and current affairs of China. The Library actively collects materials from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and has been steadily building its digital collections on China. The collection contains Chinese-language materials in a range of formats, including:
Journals & magazines
Historical texts & rare books
The collection covers all subject areas but primarily focuses on the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on history, culture, society, economic, politics and government of modern and contemporary China.
The Chinese collection is strong in local gazetteers, collectanea, writings of individuals of the Qing (1644–1912) periods, rare books (from the 12th to 19th centuries), and primary and secondary sources for the study of the history of modern and contemporary China. The Collection plays a vital role in the growing exchange of information between Australia and Asia.
This guide provides guidance on searching and locating material in the Library’s Chinese collection, using the Library’s eResources, and featured collection items. It also provides information on key resources and information from other sources, and some recommendations for family historians of Chinese-Australian heritage.
Most books and journals will be delivered through the Main Reading Room but special formats such as maps, artworks, rare books or items from the formed Asian collections from scholars and bibliophiles, will be delivered through the Special Collections Reading Room.
Some materials in the collection are digitised and made freely online available, examples are:
You can also use the Copies Direct service to request a digital reproduction of an item and have it sent to you via email. Please note there may be copyright restrictions when using this service.
A rare map of Hong Kong drawn by Italian missionary Simeone Volonteri in 1866 held in the Library’s Braga collection, which is one of the finest collections in the world on the history of the Portuguese colony of Macau and provides a rich resource for the study of social and historical developments during the period of Portuguese colonisation.
The National Library of Australia acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website contains a range of material which may be considered culturally sensitive including the records of people who have passed away.