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East Asian Studies

A Visitor Guide to East Asian Libraries

Libraries in Mainland China

There are well established library systems in mainland China, led by the National Library of China (NLC), which is the largest library in Asia, housing the largest collection of Chinese books in the world.  There are about 3,000 public libraries in China at the provincial, city and county levels all over the country.  Each university and college has its library to provide all formats of print and electronic resources.  Detailed information on these libraries’ collections and services would be available on their websites.

China has also developed one of the largest telecommunication networks in the world by which you could easily to use computers, cell phones, and mobile devises to gain information resources.  However, in case you encounter difficulty to access some contents or email on the Internet, you could try to use the connection with Virtual Private Network (VPN)

The National Library of China (NLC) 中国国家图书馆


NLC Visitor’s Guide:

Rules and Regulations for Readers:

National Library of China
No. 33 Zhongguancun Nandajie
Hai Dian District , Beijing 100081

Tel: (+86 10) 88544114
Consultation Tel: (+86 10) 88545426、88545360
Service Supervision: (+86 10) 88545022

NLC Ancient Books Library
No. 7 Wenjin Street
Xi Cheng District, Beijing100034
Tel: (+86 10) 88003091

Links for Major Provincial Libraries:


Archives in China (PRC)

The First Historical Archives of China (FHAC) 中国第一历史档案馆
Collections: Chiefly archives of the Ming and Qing dynasties
Homepage:  (Chinese)

Beijing Gugong Xihuamennei
Beiing 100031
Tel: +86-10-63099011
Fax: 63096489

The Second Historical Archives of China (SHAC) 中国第二历史档案馆
Collections:  As one of the national archives of China, the SHAC features a collection of the original records of all the central regimes and their subordinate organs during the Republican Era of China (1912-1949).


309 East Zhongshan Road,
Nanjing 210016
Tel: +86-25-84800747
Fax: 84808122

China Film Archive (CFA) 中国电影资料馆

Website: (English) (Chinese)

No. 3 Xiaoxitian Wenhuilu
Hai Dian District , Beijing 100082
Tel: (+86 10) 82296114

Libraries in Taiwan


The National Central Library (NCL)
Home page:

No.20, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District
Taipei City 10001, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Map and Location
Tel: 886-2-23619132

Academia Sinica Library Service

Selected Libraries on Taiwan
Each university and college in Taiwan has its library so check their websites for detailed information.

Libraries in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Public Libraries

List of libraries in Hong Kong

Libraries in Japan

Most of the libraries in Japan have homepages, and major libraries such as the National Diet Library and university libraries have online library catalogs so that you can check their collection.  Libraries in Japan have different rules and protocols.  For example, you may need a letter of introduction in order to be admitted.  So, it is important to check their websites before your visit to prepare accordingly.

The National Diet Library (NDL), the only national library in Japan, is similar in purpose and scope to the Library of Congress in the U.S.   The NDL consists of two main facilities in Tokyo and Kyoto, and is open to anyone over the age of 18.  Since the materials are in closed stacks, you need to make requests and wait for service, and there are limits on how many materials can be requested at one time.  As the main library in Tokyo is often crowded, it is recommended that you arrive there in the morning.  The NDL requires that a visitor register as user before entering the library.  For information about user registration, see 

There are over 3,000 public libraries in Japan, including 62 prefectural libraries, and over 2,400 city libraries.  Prefectural libraries often have wonderful collections on local history as well as modern literature and Japanese history.  Public libraries in Japan are usually in open stacks and reference librarians are available to assist you.  For links to the websites of public libraries in Japan, see

There are 758 four-year-universities in Japan including 86 national universities, 77 public universities, and 595 private universities.  Visitors to national university libraries such as the University of Tokyo Library need to register as a guest to be admitted.   Libraries at private universities such as Keio and Waseda often require that you bring a letter of introduction from your home library.  For links to the websites of university libraries in Japan, see


Libraries in Korea

There are 3 national libraries, 703 Public libraries, 651 university libraries, and 11,000 more in Korea. Three national libraries are all located in Seoul, and you may access after you register. In term of the public libraries you can enter without registration.  Most of the universities libraries had a limited access, yet you can request for a tour or a general visit.  The public transportation system is well-organized in Korean, especially within Seoul; thus, recommend taking the public transportation since there is limited space to park in the city. The specific information about each type of library are followed:

The National Library of Korea

The National Library of Korea has the largest collection among Korean libraries. It is located near to Express Bus Terminal Metro Station (line 3, 7, 9). When you first visit the National Library of Korea, you should go to “Library card issuing room” and may need a passport or any other types of identification card to create the one-day pass. You may call Information Center (02-590-0513/0514) to check what types of identity cards are acceptable. The library card printer will issue the card. After attain the card, you can enter the gate at the front door. Please do not forget to return your one-day pass card otherwise you have to pay a penalty.  Be wear that the library close every 2nd and 4th Monday and the national holiday.

Related link for the first library use:

Extra resource:

National Assembly Library

National Assembly Library is another library with the good amount of collection with the specialty in law related materials, and similar to the National Congress Library in DC. There is a free shuttle bus circulating between the library and Yeouido metro station and National Assembly metro station.  You may need either an Alien card or a passport to register. Submit your identify card to the information desk and generate ID and PW to get an e-library card (daily or long-term library card). After you receive the card, you can enter the gate.

Related link for the first library use:

Seoul Metropolitan Library

The library is used to be an old city hall building in Seoul and located in front of Seoul Plaza. You may enter without registration, but you cannot check out the books at least you are certified as Alien registrant with the verifying residency of Seoul.  If you are satisfied with these requirements you can register first through online and then get the card at the library.

Related link for the first visit to library:

Gyeonggi Provincial Central Library

Including Gyeonggi Provincial Central Library, most of the libraries run by provincial government have a free access to everyone, but you cannot check out any books (you should be the citizen of the province to check out the books). Gyeonggi Province is the closest one from the Seoul mostly less than an hour distance.

Library Website (in Korean):

(Please keep in mind that most libraries besides national ones do not have an English service.)

Seoul National University Library

Besides a few major universities in Seoul, most university libraries have limited access, exclusive to the universities’ students, faculties and staffs. At those accessible libraries, you can ask to enter with a vail ID as you get there. Most of the time, you need to talk to the guard at the gate and let them know you are visiting.  (Please make it clear that you are visiting since the security issue is more severe in the university libraries. It is always good to ask a university student for a help.) In case of Seoul National University Library, you should go to 4th floor security desk to issue a SNU Library one day pass. With the issued card, you can enter, yet cannot check out the books. The university libraries have a numerous books in English and the master’s and doctoral thesis of the universities.

Related link for the first visit to library:

Another decent university library in Seoul, Yonsei University Library

(Sponsored by Samsung, thus the facilities in term of technology are better than any other university libraries):