- What we collect
- Preserving our collections
- Building our collections
- Selected Library collections
- Collection statistics
- History of the collection
- Processing and describing our collections
The National Library’s Asian language collections focus on contemporary Asia from the 19th century onwards. Systematic collecting began in the 1950s and covers a range of subjects, such as history, politics, current affairs, society and culture.
The National Library’s Asian language collections focus on contemporary Asia from the 19th century onwards. Systematic collecting began in the 1950s and covers a range of subjects, such as history, politics, current affairs, society and culture. Books, journals, government publications, magazines and newspapers are supplemented by full-text article databases, e-books, maps, archived websites and ephemeral materials.
The collections are strongest for the countries of East and Southeast Asia, and there are rich holdings of English language materials on Asia.
How the collection is arranged
The Asian collections are divided by language. The script language collections for China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are housed separately from the Library’s main collections and made available in the Asian Collections reading room. These collections are in subject sequences and can be browsed on request.
The collections for the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Vietnam are integrated into the main Library collection, as are English language collections for the whole of Asia.
Explore our Asian collections by viewing the highlights below:
- Da ban ruo bo luo mi duo jing大般若波羅蜜多經–see the Library’s earliest printed book, a 12th century printing of the Buddhist scriptures in Chinese
- London Missionary Society collection – gain an insight into the activities of missionaries in 19th century China
- Japanese woodblock print collection – view some of the colourful images from the Library’s collection of 19th century Japanese prints