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Rare books can be found in the main catalog. However, you may also refer to the specialized Chinese Rare Books Catalog. This catalog allows browsing of rare books, Chinese only, by author name and subject, and offers an advanced search as well. Thus, the main catalog answers the question "does Princeton have book X in any form " (including rare items), while the specialized catalog answers the question "what rare books does Princeton have? (but it will not tell you not whether we have a microfilm or reprint of the title.)
Outside visitors are welcome to use the East Asian Library. For borrowing privileges regarding the normal collection, please contact the Access Office in Firestone Library. Prospective users of the East Asian Library can apply to the Friends of the Princeton University Library Visiting Fellowships for some limited funding; note that competition is fierce.
Access to Rare Books
Due to space considerations, the books of the original (Chinese) Gest Collection are no longer physically located in the East Asian Library, nor are other rare books acquired subsequently (e.g., most Japanese and Korean rare books). Of course, you still will be able to use these books; the following explains the procedures to follow. In all cases, it is strongly encouraged to contact the Chinese Bibliographer before you visit Princeton, and it will benefit you greatly if you identify the items needed in the publicly available catalogs beforehand, in order to minimize the time spent on retrieving the books. Frequently there are ongoing preservation and scanning projects, which may make certain items not immediately available; if alerted in advance, we will make efforts to retrieve them.
Books considered Rare (most Chinese books published before 1796, but including some later choice items; most Japanese and Korean pre-1900 items) are physically located in the EAL Rare Book Collection in the Mudd Library, where they can be consulted in its Reading Room when open (usually, five days a week from 9 to 5.) Mudd Library, and can be consulted during weekday office hours. However, it is important to note that many traditionally-bound materials are located in Princeton’s storage locations (Annex or ReCAP), and are not in this Rare Book Collection; retrieval may take several days. A few choice items may be in the high-security rare books vaults in the main library. The electronic catalog will tell you what is where; for items not listed there, contact the Chinese Bibliographer, Martin Heijdra.
With few exceptions, users will be able to make digital photographs of books for their own personal use, after signing an agreement form at the Reading Room; this does not inlcude publication rights, for which special permission needs to be sought.
All users are required to register once first; please read the FAQ, and fill out the form on http://blogs.princeton.edu/research-account/. Users from outside Princeton will have to obtain a special photo-ID at the Access Office; proper identification (government-issued ID, passport, or university ID card) is necessary (see at the link above the registration FAQ.)
As mentioned above, first-time users are strongly encouraged to first make an appointment with the Chinese Bibliographer, Martin Heijdra, also for Japanese and Korean material. Information on access to some items, especially those not yet in the electronic catalog, as well as other information on temporarily unavailable items of the Rare Books Collection is only available at the East Asian Library itself, not at the Reading Room in Mudd Library.
For the most up-to-date information on all pre-1796 items, please consult the entries in Princeton’s on-line catalog. To request material in there, click on the See Request Options link, and follow the instructions on the general Request Materials page.
The OCLC database now contains the full International Union Catalogue of Chinese Rare Books, compiled under leadership of Sören Edgren. All Princeton’s Chinese rare books are included. This project was undertaken by an independent organization under the auspices of the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. This electronic catalog gives superior access to detailed records of the pre-1796 Chinese rare book holdings of most North American and several important Mainland Chinese and European libraries, according to detailed uniform guidelines. In OCLC, users should click on “show record information” and then on the particular library record for getting the specifics for that particular item.
Users may also benefit from the printed Qu Wanli Pulinsidun daxue Geside Dongfang Tushuguan Zhongwen shanben shuzhi (originally published in 1974, now available as vol. 13 of the Qu Wanli quanji; compiled in 1965-1966 on the basis of an unpublished draft of Wang Zhongmin). This catalog contains mostly Ming works, and contains the large majority of such items available at Princeton; but this catalog is now considered outdated in some of its details.
Finally the printed Chang Bide/Wu Zhefu, Pulinsidun daxue Geside Dongfang Tushuguan Zhongwen jiuji shumu catalog (1990) contains mostly Qing items. It may contain items not yet in the on-line catalog. Call number and locatio information listed in this catalog may be incorrect; the correct information is in the on-line catalog.
Especially if you need items in one of the storage areas (Annex or ReCAP), or not in the electronic catalog at all, and you are not physically at Princeton, you should contact in advance the Chinese Bibliographer, Martin Heijdra ( or call: 609-258-5336), so that the non-rare books can be retrieved for you from storage before you visit Princeton. You can also make such a request using this form.