The main entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is now open. Van Pelt Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library are currently open to Penn Card holders, Penn affiliates, and certain visitors. See our Service Alerts for details.


Collection Description

This collection consists of materials in the Japanese language, largely housed in Van Pelt Library (fifth floor, East Asia Stacks), Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Museum Library, and the LIBRA storage facility. The focus of the Japanese collection is on the humanities and social sciences, supporting faculty and students across the School of Arts & Sciences--from the East Asian Languages & Civilizations, History, Art History, Religion, Architecture, History and Sociology of Science, Anthropology, and Archaeology departments--and the Weitzman School of Design and other schools at Penn. We collect a wide range of materials, including primary and secondary sources from throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in addition to rare and special materials dating from the Edo (1603-1868), Meiji (1868-1912), Taishō (1912-1926), and early Shōwa (1926-1989) periods.

Special Collections

The Penn Libraries collects a variety of Japanese rare materials, including but not limited to books, periodicals, scrapbooks, limited-circulation newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, and art prints. These come to the Libraries both from targeted purchases from Japan, and from gifts in kind. The Penn Libraries, over time, has built on historic strengths and been guided by collection usage in teaching and research, as well as generous gifts and local community member discoveries and donations. The Libraries’ major collections at present include the Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, the Japanese Juvenile Fiction Collection, and the Japanese Naval Collection.


Doing Research

Due to romanization and script complexities, Japanese materials can be tricky to research in libraries that are not located in East Asia. We recommend that you search in romanized Japanese in Franklin if at all possible, because some common characters (such as 巻, 録, and 戸) are variant characters in the catalog that cannot be entered on a normal keyboard. In Worldcat and Japanese catalogs, you should not encounter these problems. If you are searching a Japanese catalog or article database, of course, search in Japanese rather than romanization.

E-journals and online articles are generally not available for Japanese humanities research, except in the case of university kiyō 紀要 and some open-access publications (which can be found in CiNii or JAIRO). To locate Japanese articles, start with CiNii, MagazinePlus, or Zassaku Plus to obtain your citation. Then request the article either via Digital Delivery (in the Franklin record for the journal if we own it), or if Penn does not own it, via Inter-Library Loan. In these forms, use both romanized Japanese (with no diacritics) and the original Japanese (e.g., in kanji), and fill out as much information as you can. Page numbers, journal title, and year/issue are most important.

If you need to find information on a person or author, some helpful places to start are Whoplus, NDL Authorities, and Webcat Plus (which is also a Japanese book database).