About the East Asian Collection

In 1958, the University of Kansas received a federal grant to establish an East Asian studies program. From the beginning, the Libraries supported this program through the collection of East Asian materials. In 1965, the University of Kansas Libraries established the East Asian Library (EAL) to facilitate the acquisition and processing of materials from this region. The EAL staff acquires and processes materials for the collections, and provides reference and research support to the KU community and beyond. The collections support the East Asian Languages and Cultures B.A. and M.A. programs, as well as doctoral programs with an East Asian concentration in a number of departments and professional schools in the humanities and social sciences. Traditionally, emphasis has been placed on collecting East Asian materials in the humanities, particularly in the fields of art history, history, languages, cultures, and religion. Since the mid-1980s, in the effort to support the expanding East Asian program, emphasis has widened to include social science materials, such as contemporary politics, business, law and women's studies. The collection size ranks 11th among  public university library collections in the United States.

  • Collection Locations
  • Collection Languages
  • Types of Materials
  • Access to the Collection
  • Romanization Help
  • Collection Strengths
  • Collection Conspectus
  • Collection Updates
  • Welcome to scholars from overseas Scholars
  • Dragon Shield
  • KU Scholar Works Center for East Asian Studies Community

Collection Locations

The East Asian languages collection is housed on the fifth floor of Watson Library as well as the 4½ Center stacks level. East Asian folios (> 28 cm) are shelved on the 1 East stacks level. In addition, Watson is home to most western language materials on East Asia except art history, business, and music materials. East Asian art history materials are housed in the Murphy Art and Architecture Library. Some social sciences and science subjects are housed in the Anschutz Library. Many periodicals published before the year 2000 are housed in the Library Annex and can be delivered to any campus library within 1-3 days. Kenneth Spencer Special Collections houses some thread-bound rare books in East Asian languages.

Collection Languages

Primary languages collected are Chinese (modern and classical, both in simplified and traditional characters), Japanese, Korean, and English. Secondary languages are Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and European languages.

Types of Materials

The collection includes all types of formats: print and electronic books and journals, databases, museum pamphlets and catalogs, audiovisual materials (slides, pictures, LP records, audio tapes, VHS, CD-ROM, DVD, VCD), music scores, GIS data sets, maps, atlases, microforms, painting scrolls, woodblock prints, and websites.

Collected: Books, periodicals, and reference materials, which include encyclopedias and handbooks, annuals, subject bibliographies, dictionaries, indexes and abstracts, audio-visual and electronic materials.

Collected selectively: Microforms, government documents, literature for children and young adults.

Types excluded: Most textbooks are not included except historical textbooks.

Access to the Collection 

Library Catalog Help

The KU Libraries Online Catalog ("OCAT" for short) contains approximately 99% of the East Asian collection.  KU OCAT displays CJK characters and is searchable with CJK characters.

Displaying and Searching Non-Roman Characters in the online Catalog (Unicode)

The above information by the Library of Congress is useful for our users since the LOC and KU both use the same library system (Voyager).

The call number (or classification number), usually on the label on a book spine, indicates where a book is shelved in the library stacks. There are three shelving number systems used by EAL: Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and an accession number scheme called "brief list."

The Library of Congress (LC) Call Number: Books beginning with the letter "A" through "PL 2250" are located in the 5th floor main stacks. Books beginning with the letters "PL 2251" through "Z" are located in the 4½ Center stacks.

LC numbers begin with an alphabetical prefix:



The Dewey Decimal collection is located on level 4½ Center stacks. The numbers do not begin with an alphabetical prefix.



All folios (LC and Dewey) are shelved in the 1-East Watson stacks.

Romanization Help

In order to type non-western languages using a keyboard, please follow the link for instructions about adding a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean keyboard to your computer's options:  Romanization Help

Collection Strengths

Reflecting prominent teaching and research activities during the past thirty years, the East Asian collections are strong in art history, history, literature, religion, theater and drama, and Japanese women's studies.

Chinese Collection

The Chinese collection provides broad coverage of materials on the humanities and social sciences in history, art history, language and literature, philosophy, religion, and women's studies. It is particularly strong in the study of Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties (1260-1912), art history, religion and literature, the history and cultural development of the Republican period (1912-1949), the cultural revolution and social and economic conditions of post-Cultural Revolution China (1975-), and contemporary China. Large collected works known as collectanea were the foundation of the collection from the early 1960s. 

Of particular strength is art history of the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The emphasis has been on literati paintings, Buddhist art, mural paintings, and the Wei and Jin calligraphy. Materials collected include paintings, museum exhibition catalogs, biographies and writings of literati painters, period criticism, historical works on paintings, and local gazetteers. This collection supports doctoral level studies.

The Chinese language and literature collection is strong in traditional classics works, Ming and Qing novels and works of literati collections.  Since the mid-2000s, materials on ancient China archeology and findings have been added strategically.  Regarding Chinese rare books, the Schindler Collection was acquired in the early 1960s.  It contains a few hundred Chinese woodblock print books on classics, history, and art subjects from the late 18th century to 19th century. Some of them are unique holdings here at KU. They provided students and researchers of history of print learning opportunities.

Japanese Collection

The Japanese collection was established later than the Chinese collection and supports undergraduate and graduate programs; particularly robust are Ph.D. studies in history and art history. Therefore, the library collection contains an array of resources on Japanese paintings, modern Japanese history, literature on the medieval Heian period classical writings, and the 20th century literature of important authors.

The Japanese art history collection is particularly strong in paintings from the medieval period to pre-modern period of Japan. The collection contains famous picture scrolls produced between the Heian period and Muromachi period (794-1600). The library also has an extensive collection of Edo (Tokugawa) period (1600-1868) paintings and Ukiyoe woodblock prints. The remarkable private Stern Collection was added to the library collection in the late 1970s and focuses on Japanese paintings, especially from the Edo (Tokugawa) period. The library has collected major publications and exhibition catalogs of established museums in Japan, thereby providing updated secondary resources to library users. The collection of materials on performing arts, especially kabuki play and noh play, is extensive.

The history collection covers the medieval period to the pre-modern period of Japanese history. Particular emphasis has been placed on modern Japan from the late Meiji period to the early Showa periods. The collection is exceptionally strong in materials on the socialist/communist movement, including the original and reprint issues of journals and monographs published by socialist and communist groups in the 1920s and 1930s. Of special note is the collection of original military maps of Manchuria (Manchukuo) created by the Kwangtung Army during the 1930s. The Japanese history collection is the strongest collection in general and covers important primary sources supporting M.A. and Ph.D. level studies.

In terms of social science disciplines, concentrated effort has been made to collect materials on Japanese minority issues, particularly discrimination against the Buraku people and women's studies. Additional concentrated efforts have been made to collect materials on the status of Japanese women, including the recent issue of comfort women during World War II.

Korean Collection

The Korean language collection consists of core reference works, art history on Choson painting, and ceramics, pre-modern and contemporary history, religion, and language and literature. The collection has been grown along with the Korean studies program growth since the mid-1990s to support various Korean studies seeded faculty position, programs, and initiatives. The Korea foundation's e-resources support grants have been subsidized Korean e-resource subscriptions since early 2013. Korean language materials have been selected to support Korean art history, history, language and literature teaching and research needs. One outstanding rare piece is the 14th century Korean Chinese sutra manuscript. It is a notable treasure of the Korean rare collection. 


The library continues to purchase essential journals in print format, but depends upon full-text electronic journals if they are available via journal databases in Chinese and Korean languages. Current newspapers and historical newspapers are mostly accessible via subscribed databases. 

Western Language Materials

The East Asian languages collection is supported by western language materials on East Asian studies housed in the general library collection (Watson Library and the Library Annex), Murphy Art and Architecture Library, Government Information Resources, Thomas Gorton Music and Dance Library, Thomas R. Smith Map Collection, and the Special Collections of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The western language materials supporting East Asian studies consist of more than 55,000 volumes in all subjects in the humanities and social sciences. In coordination with other subject specialists, the Libraries acquire English language materials on East Asian studies, as well. The English language collection supports basic undergraduate and graduate research.  Other important international resources are the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, and the Wheat Law Library.

Collection Conspectus

LC Classification
General Works
AC 149-715  Collections, series, collected works. 3
AE 1-95    Encyclopedias (general) 4
AI 19-21    Indexes    
AP 95    Periodicals 4
AS 122-955  Academies and learned societies   
Philosophy  3
B 8-5802    Philosophy   
BL 9-2775  Religions, mythology, rationalism 3
BQ 3-9800  Buddhism 4
BQ1100-3340  Tripitaka (Canonical literature) 4
BR-BX  Christianity  3
DS 701-799.9  China 4
DS798.92-799.9  Taiwan 3
DS801-897  Japan 4
DS901-937  Korea 2
Geography.  Anthropology.  Recreation   
G 1- 2000    Geography 2
GR1-950    Folklore 3
GT 90-7055  Manners and customs 3
GV 45-1965  Recreation 2
Social Sciences   
HA 1-4646  Statistics 3
HA 1-4646 Economic history and conditions 3
HD 37-9999 Land, agriculture, industry    2
Political Science   
JQ1499-1749 Political institutions and public administration (East Asia)    3
KL-KWX    Law (Asia and Eurasia, etc.)   
KNN1-9000  China    3
KNQ1-9665  China (People's Republic, 1949-) 3
KNX1-4999  Japan    3
Education    2
LA11-2385 History of education 1
LB14-3059 Theory and Higher education    1
M Music    1
N Fine Arts   
N7340 Art history. China 4
N7350 Art history. Japan 4
NA  Architecture 3
NB Sculpture    4
NC1690-1699 Drawing. Design. Illustration. China 2
NC1700-1709 Drawing. Design. Illustration. Japan 2
ND Painting   
ND1040    China 4
ND1049   Individual artists 3
ND1050 Japan 4
ND1059   Individual artists 3
NE Engraving. Printing.   
NE1310-1325 Prints, Ukiyoe 4
NK Decorative arts. Applied arts. Decoration and ornament   
NK3631-3639 Calligraphy 4
NX 8-676    Arts in general 2
Language and Literature   
P 9-350    Linguistics 2
P901-1081  Extinct (Ancient or Medieval) Asian languages 3
PL501-889 Japanese language and literature 4
PL901-998 Korean language and literature 2
PL1001-3207 Chinese language and literature 4
PN 9-6790 Literary history and collections (general) 3
Q 4-360    Science (general) 2
QE 1-993    Geology    1
R 100-856 Medicine (general)    1
RC 55-889 Internal medicine. Practice of medicine    1
S 19-900    Agriculture (general)    1
SB 45-500 Landscape architecture and gardens 2
T 4-300 Technology (general)    1
TX 300-900 Home economics    2
Military science
U 19-891    Military science (general) 1
UA 830-853 Armies    1
Bibliography. Library science   
Z43-45 Calligraphy. Penmanship 4
Z3101-3109 Bibliography.  China 4
Z3301-3309 Japan    4
Z3316-3320 Korea    1

Collection depth indicator definitions   
0 = out of scope   
1 = minimal information level   
2 = basic information level   
3 = study or instructional support level   
4 = research level   
5 = comprehensive level   

International Collections

Location & Hours

Watson Library, 5th Floor
1425 Jayhawk Blvd, Rm. 519
Lawrence, KS 66045

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.