Chinese collection collection development policy

Main content

Program information

There are four priorities in the development of the Chinese Collection. They are: 1) to acquire primary materials for Chinese Studies, such as newly punctuated, collated, and annotated works in classical Chinese, reports of archaeological excavations and anthropological surveys, translations of the classical works of ethnic minorities living in today's China, photo-reprinted archives of local authorities in late imperial and republic China, and official and legal documents published by the Chinese government; 2) to acquire high-quality secondary studies and academic journals in the fields of Chinese literature, language, history, religion, archaeology, folklore, art history, society, ethnic and international relations, law, traditional sciences and technology, and Dunhuang and Turfan studies; 3) to collect important reference materials such as bibliographies of scholarly works in various fields and different languages, indexes to classical Chinese texts, encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, etc; and 4) to acquire and gain access to important electronic resources for Chinese Studies.

Collection description

The history of the Chinese Collection at Van Pelt Library can be traced back to 1926 when the Chinese government left behind a small number of traditional Chinese books to Penn after the U.S. Sesquicentennial Exposition. Since then the collection has been built up gradually over the years. As of June 2001, Van Pelt Library has 119,186 monographs, 1,255 microfilms, and 67 currently received periodicals in Chinese. In addition to printed materials, the library also subscribes to a number of electronic journals and databases with relevance to Chinese Studies.

Chinese Studies is served by several components in the library. The majority of Chinese books and bound journals is housed in the East Asian Collection, which also contains Japanese and Korean publications, on the fifth floor of the library. The Derk Bodde East Asian Seminar Room collects a number of reference materials as well as current issues of some academic journals published in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, which are of particular interest to the Chinese Studies community of Penn. Other unbound Chinese journals are located in the Current Periodicals Section. In addition to Van Pelt Library, some other branches of Penn library system, especially the University Museum Library and Fisher Fine Arts Library, have extensive holdings in Chinese language.

The development of the Chinese Collection in the past was almost exclusively focused on the pre-modern aspect of Chinese civilization. In the most recent decade as studies of modern China at Penn has been growing fast, significant effort has been made to improve the collection of materials dealing with modern topics. This trend will continue in the future, while the collection's traditional strength in pre-modern Chinese Studies will be maintained.

Guidelines for Collection Development

There are four priorities in the development of the Chinese Collection. They are: 1) to acquire primary materials for Chinese Studies, such as newly punctuated, collated, and annotated works in classical Chinese, reports of archaeological excavations and anthropological surveys, translations of the classical works of ethnic minorities living in today's China, photo-reprinted archives of local authorities in late imperial and republic China, and official and legal documents published by the Chinese government; 2) to acquire high-quality secondary studies and academic journals in the fields of Chinese literature, language, history, religion, archaeology, folklore, art history, society, ethnic and international relations, law, traditional sciences and technology, and Dunhuang and Turfan studies; 3) to collect important reference materials such as bibliographies of scholarly works in various fields and different languages, indexes to classical Chinese texts, encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, etc; and 4) to acquire and gain access to important electronic resources for Chinese Studies.

1. Chronological

From antiquity to the present. With special emphases on the pre-Qin (before 3rd century BCE), medieval (3rd-10th centuries CE), late imperial (1644-1912), and contemporary (1949-) periods.

2. Formats

Chiefly books and journals, some newspapers, microfilms, and electronic.

3. Geographical

China in the broadest sense (including China proper, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, and Xinjiang).

4. Language

Chiefly Chinese, some bi-lingual works such as language dictionaries and western translations of traditional Chinese texts.

5. Publication dates

Current publications, including reprints of early Chinese works.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

The collection acquires most materials from the following sources: Beijing Forestsong Book Company, Beijing; Mans Book Company, Hong Kong; Joint Publishing Company, Hong Kong; Shanghai Book Traders, Shanghai; China National Publishing Industry Trading Corporation, Beijing; Lexis Books, Taiwan; China Post, Taiwan; and China Classics, California.

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting
    Anthropology 1/1/3
    Archaeology 4/4
    Art/Architecture 3/3/4
    Buddhism 4/4
    Confucianism 4/4
    Diplomatic History 1/1/3
    Economic History 2/2
    Economics (Modern) 2/2
    Folklore 2/2/3
    Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies 2/2/4
    History, pre-modern 4/4
    History, 20-century 3/3/4
    Literature, pre-modern 4/4
    Literature, 20-century 3/3/4
    Philosophy, pre-modern 3/3/4
    Philosophy, 20-century 2/2/3
    Political science 1/1/3
    Sociology 1/1/3
    Taoism 3/3/4
    Traditional medicine 2/2/4

Subjects excluded

Modern popular and children's literature, traveler's guides, modern art, translations of Western literature, textbooks, and works on science in general, with exceptions in each case.

Cooperative arrangements

In order to supplement the holdings at Penn, faculty and students are encouraged to utilize a number of Chinese Studies resources located in the middle Atlantic regions. Columbia University in New York, for example, offers extensive law and pre-modern history collections. Princeton University holds a large number of Chinese academic journals that are commercially unavailable both in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., accessible within a day's commuting distance, offers the largest collection on East Asian Studies.