National Library of China
The old buildings of the library, now (since 1987) the branch of the National Library of China that houses historical and ancient books, documents and manuscripts
|Size||31,195,121 volumes (Dec 2012)|
|Access and use|
|Circulation||library does not publicly circulate|
|Population served||members of the public|
|Director||Han Yongjin 韩永进|
The National Library of China (simplified Chinese: 中国国家图书馆; traditional Chinese: 中國國家圖書館; pinyin: Zhōngguó Guójiā Túshūguǎn) or NLC in Beijing is the national library of the People's Republic of China. With a collection of over 31.1 million items, it is the largest library in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It holds the largest and diverse collections of Chinese literature and historical documents in the world.
The forerunner of the National Library of China, the Metropolitan Library (京师图书馆; Jīngshī Túshūguǎn), was founded on September 9, 1909 by the government of the Qing dynasty. It was first formally opened after the Xinhai Revolution, in 1912. In 1916, the library received depository library status. In July 1928, its name was changed to National Peiping Library and was later changed to the National Library.
Early references to public libraries were by Lin Zexu in the Sizhou Zhi (四洲志; 1839) and Wei Yuan in the Illustrated Treatise on the Maritime Kingdoms (first ed., 1843), both of which were translations from Western books.
In the late nineteenth century, in response to several military defeats against western powers, the government of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) sent several missions abroad to study western culture and institutions. Several members of the first Chinese diplomatic mission, which traveled to the United States, England, France, and other countries from 1868 to 1870, recorded their views of western libraries, noting that they attracted a large number of readers. Journalist Liang Qichao (1873–1929), who became a prominent exiled intellectual after the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform in 1898, wrote about the Boston Public Library and the University of Chicago Library, praising their openness to the public and the virtue of readers who did not steal the books that had been lent to them. Dai Hongci (zh), a member of another Qing mission sent abroad to study modern constitutions, noted the efficacy of book borrowing at the Library of Congress.
In 1906, the governor of Hunan province Pang Hongshu (zh) memorialized to the throne to announce he had completed preparations for the creation of a provincial library in Changsha. In 1908 and 1909, high officials from the provinces of Fengtian, Shandong, Shanxi, Zhejiang and Yunnan petitioned the court asking for permission to establish public libraries in their respective jurisdictions. In response, on 2 May 1909, the Qing Ministry of Education (Xuebu 学部) announced plans to open libraries in every province of the empire.
On 9 September 1909 Zhang Zhidong, a long-time leader of the Self-Strengthening movement who had been viceroy of Huguang and was now serving on the powerful Grand Council, memorialized to request the foundation of a library in China's capital. Foundation of the library was approved by imperial edict that same day. The institution was originally called the Metropolitan Library or Capital Library (京师图书馆; Jīngshī Túshūguǎn).
Philologist and bibliographer Miao Quansun (zh) (1844–1919), who had overseen the founding of Jiangnan Library in Nanjing two years earlier, was called in to administer the new establishment. As in Jiangnan, his assistant Chen Qingnian took charge of most of the management.
A private proposal made by Luo Zhenyu in the early 1900s stated that the library should be located in a place protected from both fire and floods, and at some distance from noisy markets. Following these recommendations, the Ministry of Education first chose the Deshengmen neighborhood inside the northern city wall, a quiet area with lakes. But this plan would have required purchasing several buildings. For lack of funds, Guanghua Temple (广化寺) was chosen as the library's first site. Guanghua Temple was a complex of Buddhist halls and shrines located near the northern bank of the Shichahai, but inconveniently located for readers, and too damp for long-term book storage. The Metropolitan Library would remain there until 1917.
Opening and history to 1949
The Metropolitan Library opened to the public on August 27, 1912, a few months after the abdication of Puyi (r. 1908–12), the last emperor of the Qing dynasty. From then on, it was managed by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (1912–49). The day before the library's opening, its new chief librarian Jiang Han (江瀚: 1853–1935) argued that the Metropolitan Library was a research library and recommended the opening of a new library with magazines and new publications that could attract a more popular readership. In June 1913, such a Branch Library was opened outside Xuanwu Gate, and more than 2,000 books were transferred there from the main library. On October 29, 1913, because Guanghua Temple proved too small and inaccessible, the main library itself was closed, pending the choice of a new site.
The Library charged one copper coin as a reading fee, whereas the Tianjin Library charged twice as much and the Shandong public library charged three coins. At first, readers could not borrow books, but sometime before 1918 borrowing became allowed.
After the People's Republic of China was officially established in October 1949 and Beijing became its capital, the National Beiping Library was renamed Beijing Tushuguan (lit., Beijing Library). In 1951, the Ministry of Culture declared that its official English name would now be National Library of Peking.
The National Library of China's collection is the largest in Asia. Its holdings of more than 31.1 million items (by 2012) also make it one of the world's largest libraries. It houses official publications of the United Nations and foreign governments and a collection of literature and materials in over 115 languages. The library contains inscribed tortoise shells and bones, ancient manuscripts, and block-printed volumes. Among the most prized collections of the National Library of China are rare and precious documents and records from past dynasties in Chinese history.
The original collection of the Metropolitan Library was assembled from several sources. In 1909 the imperial court gave the library the only surviving complete copy of the Siku Quanshu (Complete Books of the Four Treasuries), an enormous compilation completed in 1782 that had been made in only four copies. That copy had been held at the Wenjin Pavilion of the Imperial Summer Resort in Chengde. On orders from the Qing Ministry of Education, the ancient books, archives, and documents of the Grand Secretariat were also transferred to the new library. So was the collection of the Guozijian or Imperial University, an institution that had been dismantled in 1905 at the same time as the imperial examination system. These imperial collections included books and manuscripts dating to the Southern Song (1127–1279). The content of three private libraries from the Jiangnan area were donated under the supervision of Duanfang, the viceroy of Liangjiang, and the Ministry arranged for the transfer from Gansu of what remained of the Dunhuang manuscripts. Finally, the court made great efforts to obtain rubbings of rare inscriptions on stone or bronze.
Notable collections and items
- a collection of over 270,000 ancient and rare Chinese books, and over 1,640,000 traditional thread-bound Chinese books
- over 35,000 inscriptions on oracle bones and tortoise shells from the Shang dynasty (c. 16th–11th century BC)
- surviving tablets of the Xiping Stone Classics created by Cai Yong (132–192) of the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 AD)
- more than 16,000 volumes of precious historical Chinese documents and manuscripts from the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang
- old maps, diagrams, and rubbings from ancient inscriptions on various materials
- copies of Buddhist sutras dating to the 6th century
- original draft of Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian
- books and archives from imperial libraries of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), including the works of Zhu Xi
- oldest extant printed edition of the Huangdi Neijing (ca. 100 BC), from the Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
- the most complete surviving Ming dynasty (1368–1644) copies of the Yongle Encyclopedia ("Great Canon of the Yongle Era")
- a copy of the Siku Quanshu ("Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature"), completed in 1782 under the Qing dynasty
- essential literary and books collection from the Qing imperial colleges and renowned private collectors
Services and facilities
The North Area of the main library is open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays, and from 9am to 5pm on week-ends. The South Area has been closed for renovation since May 2011. The Children's Library and the Ancient Books Library are and closed on week-ends, and open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
|Beijing Bus||National Library||* Regular: 86, 92, 319, 320, 332, 563, 588, 608, 689, 695, 697, 717
* Special (double-decker): 4, 6
* Yuntong (运通): 105, 106, 205
|Beijing Subway||National Library|
- List of libraries
- List of national libraries
- Chinese Library Classification (CLC)
- Archives in the People's Republic of China
- "Overview of Library Collections". National Library of China. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
- "About Us – Leadership". National Library of China. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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- Li 2009, p. 4.
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- Li 2009, pp. 3–4.
- Li 2009, p. 6.
- Li 2009, p. 6. The date in the Chinese calendar is the 13th day of the 3rd month of the 1st year of Xuantong (宣统元年三月十三日), converted to a date in the Gregorian calendar on this site.
- Li 2009, p. 8.
- Li 2009, p. 8; Lin 1998, p. 57.
- Keenan 1994, p. 115.
- Li 2009, p. 9.
- Lin 1998, p. 57.
- Li 2009, pp. 17–18.
- Li 2009, p. 18.
- Lin 1998, p. 57; Li 2009, p. 18.
- Bailey 1990, p. 222, note 155.
- Bailey 1990, pp. 205 (borrowing not permitted at first), 207 (some libraries newly allowed borrowing), and 222, note 161 (citing a 1918 source saying that borrowing was allowed by then at the Beijing library).
- Li 2009, p. 157.
- Li 2009, pp. 316–17.
- Li 2009, p. 324.
- "National Library of China to add its records to OCLC WorldCat". Library Technology Guides. 2008-02-28.
- "NLC Introduction – Broad and Extensive Collections". National Library of China. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
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- "Columbia University Libraries and the National Library of China Sign Cooperative Agreement". Columbia University Libraries. 2008-11-25.
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- "China mega-book gets new life". CNN. 2002-04-18.
- "Opening Hours". National Library of China. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- 李宏巧 (2013-07-04). "国家图书馆团中央分馆在中国青年政治学院揭牌" (in Chinese).
- "NLC Home – Contact Us". National Library of China. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Bailey, Paul J. (1990), Reform the People: Changing Attitudes Towards Popular Education in Early Twentieth-Century China, – via Questia (subscription required), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-0218-6.
- Keenan, Barry C. (1994), Imperial China's Last Classical Academies: Social Change in the Lower Yangzi, 1864–1911, – via Questia (subscription required), Berkeley (CA): Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley, ISBN 1-55729-041-5.
- (Chinese) Li, Zhizhong 李致忠 (chief editor) (2009), Zhongguo guojia tushuguan guanshi 中国国家图书馆馆史 [History of the National Library of China], Beijing: NLC Press (国家图书馆出版社), ISBN 978-7-5013-4070-5.
- Lin, Sharon Chien (1998), Libraries and Librarianship in China, – via Questia (subscription required), Westport (CT) and London: Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-28937-9.
- Zhou, Mi; Weitz, Ankeney (2002), Zhou Mi's Record of Clouds and Mist Passing Before One's Eyes: An Annotated Translation, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 9789004126053.
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- Lee, Hwa-Wei (June 30, 1996). "American Contributions to Modern Library Development in China: A Historic Review". Paper presented at the 1st China–United States Library Conference.
- Li, Guoqing [李国庆] (2001), "History of the National Library of China", in Stam, David H. (ed.), International Dictionary of Library Histories, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, pp. 499–502, ISBN 1579582443.
- Lin, Sharon Chien (1983), "Education for Librarianship in China after the Cultural Revolution", – via JSTOR (subscription required), Journal of Education for Librarianship 24 (1): 17–29.
- Lin, Sharon Chien (1985), "Historical Development of Library Education in China", – via JSTOR (subscription required), The Journal of Library History (1974–1987) 20 (4): 368–86.
- Prentice, Susan (1986), "The National Library of China – The View from Within", – via JSTOR (subscription required), The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 15: 103–12.
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- Media related to National Library of China at Wikimedia Commons