Asian Languages


The Asian Library supports UBC faculty, students and academic staff in their teaching, research and other academic activities pertaining to Asia. Over 150 graduate and undergraduate courses are offered through these academic units: Anthropology and Sociology; Arts I; Asian Studies; Asian Research Institute and its 5 research centres (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South Asian and Southeast Asian); Commerce & Business Administration; Community & Regional Planning; Comparative Literature; Fine Arts; Geography; History; Human Settlement; Law; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; and Religious Studies.

Overview of the strengths of the existing collection

Since its inception in 1960 with the acquisition of the Puban collection, the Asian Library has developed into the biggest research collection of Asian language materials in Canada. The Asian Library holdings in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South Asian languages and Indonesian stand at more than 580,000 volumes. While the collection is comprehensive in its range of subjects, it is especially strong in the humanities and social sciences. Special materials include the valuable Puban collection (蒲坂藏書); the Swann collection, the Song Xuepeng collection (宋學鵬藏書); Jing Yi Zhai collection (景頤齋藏書); Pang Jingtang collection (龐鏡塘藏書), Japanese government publications, research materials on Chinese Canadian settlement in British Columbia and on the Pearl Delta Area; the Japanese-Canadian studies collections, 13,600 volumes in Indonesian language, 70,000 volumes in Hindi, Sanskrit, Punjabi and Urdu as well as over 29,500 Korean monographs.

The Chinese collection comprises over 310,000 books, 10 subscribed databases, over 1340 e-books, 8,544 microform, 22 newspapers including the on-line version of People’s Daily 1946-2004,and 1,110 rare book titles. The rare book collection, mainly from the Puban and Pang Jingtang collections, ranks 5th in North America. Since 2001, the Asian Library has provided access to 2,500 paid Chinese full-text e-journal titles, abstracts of dissertations published in China and 1,911 Korean journal/thesis titles. Full text dissertations in Chinese are available on request through interlibrary loan. In 2010, we started to have access to Chinese journal articles from 1833-1949 through Shanghai Library’s Quan Guo Bao Kan Suo Yin. Our subscription to Magazine Plus and JapanKnowledge enables access to 808,500 indexes and citations in Japanese. A database of 2,000 volumes of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center archives is also available on-line

Current areas of collecting

Current primary collecting emphasis is on materials about China, Taiwan, Japan, South Asian, Korea and Indonesia, with secondary interest on Hong Kong and Macao.

By subject:


Paleontology; prehistoric archaeology; manners and customs; folklore; minority nationalities; ethnology; comparative and cross-cultural studies; costume.


History of printing; history of books and bookmaking; book industries and trade; bibliography.


Statistical publications; census and vital statistics; economic reform in China, especially

Kwangtung Province and special economic zones; economic reform in Japan, especially after WORLD WAR II; agrarian reform in China & Japan; distribution system in Japan; economic relations with Canada. Economic history; economic conditions; domestic monetary and fiscal economics; marketing & distribution; industrial organization; industry studies; manpower; labour & labour relations; public finance; population, demography; food supply; consumer behaviour; agricultural economics; regional economics; foreign economic relations; international trade and finance; international business transactions; comparative economics.


Historical studies; planning & policy; literacy; education and society; higher education; adult education; distance learning; informal education; special education.


Chinese and Japanese painting; Buddhist art. Traditional art and cultural relics; history & criticism; religious art; folk art; classical architecture.


Statistical publications. Historical geography; human, economic, political, social and cultural geography; regional, urban and rural planning; housing; natural resources; the environment, ecosystems and ecology.


Historical chronicles; primary sources; local history of the Pearl River Delta; Local history of Shiga and Wakayama Prefectures; Edo Period (1600-1868); Emperor system of Japan; Japan’s modernization; Asian immigrants in B. C. History: all periods; archaeology; current events; political, social & labour history; diplomatic history and foreign relations; economic and demographic history; intellectual and religious history; local history; historiography; biography.


Chinese paleography. Historical linguistics; grammar; phonetics and phonology; syntax analysis; semantics; rhetoric, discourse analysis; dialectics; writing systems; translation.


Compilations of primary legal materials (e.g. Kanpo); commentaries on law and codes; economic, finance and taxation law. Civil law; constitutional & administrative law; human rights law; criminal law; labour law; land use law; property law; family law; environmental law; administration of justice; international trade law; public international law.


Texts of literary classics; contemporary literature of China and Japan; vernacular works of B.C. authors. Literary texts – all periods and all genre; mythology; folk literature; women’s literature; comparative studies; history & criticism – all periods and all genre; literary theory; literary criticism.


History & criticism; traditional music; ethnomusicology; folk music; music of minority nationalities; musical instruments; traditional dance: folk dance; dances of minority nationalities; traditional theatre.


Buddhism; Hinduism; Sikhism; Shintoism; Chinese popular religions; Shinto-Buddhist Syncretism. History, texts and commentaries; intellectual history; social philosophy; popular thought and religion; Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism; Taoism; Jainism; Christianity; Islam; shamanism; monastic institutions.


Foreign relations with Canada. Political thought & history; contemporary politics; political culture; political participation; leadership, elites, elite politics; local government; domestic public policy; mass media & politics; political economy; internationalization; foreign policy & international relations; international political economy.


Statistical publications; social developments and conditions in Pearl River Delta region; Post-war reform in Japan; immigrant workers and Japan; national characteristics; gender & women’s studies. Social history; contemporary social conditions; modernization & development; cultural & social change; urban & rural sociology; social structure; social stratification & mobility; family, marriage, kinship; social organization & institution; social security and welfare; criminology & deviance; social control; family planning; community organization and development; rural and village society; minority & ethnic groups; racial & ethnic relations; social psychology; collective behaviour; mass communication; public health.


Selection emphasis is on primary sources and scholarly works published by universities, research centres and major publishers in the region. Selected introductory works or more popular titles may be added if needed in direct support of course requirements.

Publication date

Current publications are collected extensively. Retrospective materials are collected as appropriate.


Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Korean and Indonesian. The following South Asian languages are selectively: Bengali, Gujerati, Marathi, Pakrit, Pali, Tamil and Tibetan.

Geographic origin

Primarily China, Japan, Korea, India, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Publications in these languages published in Canada, U.S. and Southeast Asia are acquired as necessary or appropriate.


Translations, doctoral dissertations, masters theses, videos, exhibition catalogues and maps acquired are on a highly selective basis.

Subject exclusions: Medicine, science and technology. Exceptions: (a) The Asian Library is the national depository for Japanese government publications. Any materials in these subjects supplied through the Depository Program will be retained. (b) Materials dealing with traditional medicine and the history of science and technology are collected selectively.

Format exclusions: Films, slides, sound recordings, sheet music, offprints or extracts from other publications.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Most Asian vernacular materials are housed in the Asian Library, but the following libraries also have some vernacular holdings:

Art + Architecture + Planning Library: Some bilingual publications and selected vernacular periodicals.

Education Library: Prescribed Mandarin and Japanese language textbooks for B. C. high schools.

Koerner Library: Asian videos with English sub-titles.

Law Library: Asian Law Collection includes Asian vernacular material which are catalogued in the K classification.

Rare Books and Special Collections: All archival materials pertaining to Asian-Canadians in Canada, including vernacular material; The Beans Collection of Rare Japanese Maps.