Special collections: Rare and special books (VGK)

April 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Rare and special books (VGK)

After the founding of the Sinological Institute in 1930, the majority of the 850 Chinese books inside the Leiden University Library were moved to the Chinese library of the Sinological Institute, later the East Asian Library. Since the summer of 2016 all of the collections have moved to the Asian Library at the main University Library at the Witte Singel, where they can be accessed at the Special Collections, during opening hours.

Some of the works had been in the University Library’s collection since the 17th century, but most were acquired after the 1870s.
Professor of Chinese studies J.J.L. Duyvendak, director of the Sinological Institute from 1930, actively acquired many rare and special editions in China. Many of the works were kept in the Van Gulik Room (Van Gulik kamer). Most of the collection can be found through our library catalogue. The library has about 3,000 rare or old Chinese books (古籍善本) (including all special collections).

Further reading and links:


The East Asian Library has several special collections. For access to these special collections, please contact the reference desk. Here’s our complete list of special collections on China:

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Special collections: Kong-Koan archives Special collections: Go collection

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this blog is set up by Alice de Jong, former subject librarian of sinology at the East Asian Library, part of the Asian Library
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