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East Asia Department


The collection of Chinese Books at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has a long history. As early as 1683, the first catalogue of Chinese titles, containing 25 entries, was printed for the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg (1620-1688) (cf. History of the Staatsbibliothek and the East Asia Department). Until 1912, altogether 1603 Libri sinici signatories had been allocated, whose number by 1945 had risen by another 2049 Libri sin. N.S. signatories. Both groups of signatories contain numerous Manchurian titles, the significance of which for the whole collection had already been pointed out by Julius Klaproth (1783-1835). Klaproth was the author of the Berlin China-Catalogue, published in print in 1822. Today, out of the nearly 70,000 Chinese and Manchurian volumes which had been relocated due to the war, only about one third is still in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.
A new and renewed inventory has been built up since 1951 with the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Collection building in original language literature from China concentrates on social sciences and the humanities, with an emphasis on jurisprudence. The whole spectrum of Chinese culture is considered. Even areas such as light fiction, film- and children's books, propaganda pamphlets of political parties and workers unions are included. Nearly all materials collected are new publications. Purchase of Chinese language materials can be made on three specific markets: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the enormous publication market in the People's Republic of China. All three markets today have in common relatively reliable and well-ordered terms and conditions of book trading.

Literature on China in Western languages is also being collected extensively. New publications are purchased completely, if possible, and the criteria for selecting titles are of a wide scope. Western Language publications from other Asian countries are collected extensively, too. Japanese literature on China is being purchased in the context of collecting Japanese literature. Japanese works on Chinese politics, economy and law as well as publications on sinology or the humanities are, in this respect, very important.

Acquisition concentrates more or less on new publications. However, the facsimile reprints of large traditional congshu 丛书 collections with Chinese titles, as, e.g., the whole Siku quanshu 四库全书 complex (including the Wenyuange siku quanshu 文渊阁四库全书, Xuxiu siku quanshu 续修四库全书, Siku weishoushu jikan 四库未收书辑刊, Siku quanshu cunmu congshu 四库全书存目丛书 and the Siku jinhuishu congkan 四库禁毁书丛刊), the Zhonghua zaizao shanben 中华再造善本, as well as titles and periodicals of Republican China, such as the Minguo jicui 民国籍粹 or the Minguo Fojiao qikan wenxian jicheng 民国佛教期刊文献集成, were also acquired by the East Asia Department.

This collection of printed media is complemented by an ever-increasing amount of electronic resources on traditional and modern China that contrast traditional printed facsimile editions with digital, searchable full-text editions, such as, for example, 10,000 traditional titles of the collection China Ancient Books (CAB), 700,000 e-books (Chinamaxx) and 50 million scholarly and academic articles (China Academic Journals; CAJ), as combined in the Virtual Special Subject Library, CrossAsia, a portal, which is cooperatively organised and modularly structured, and presently offers more than 100 international data-bases with materials pertinent to East Asia.