The Korean collection of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library was established in 1931 by a donation of nearly 1,000 books from Korean students at Columbia University. However, a systematic collection of Korean materials only began after a renewed interest in Korean Studies emerged in the early 1950s. As of June 30, 2012, the Korean collection consists of over 82,000 monographs, 500 periodicals, and over 1,400 non-book formats such as microfilm, audio-visual and so on. In addition, materials published in North Korea such as books, serials, and audio-visual are also being collected as part of the expanding collection. Furthermore, Electronic resources such as full text databases and e-books are actively being purchased since early 2000s.
Korean rare books and special collection are also included in the Korean collection as they consist of over 700 titles in 2,230 volumes including the Yi Song-ui Collection, over 150 titles of Korean novels, called “Sin sosol” (published between 1915 and 1947), and the Conant Collection which are all being stored in the Kress Rare Books & Special Collections Reading Room. Specifically, the Yi Song-ui Collection, which consists of 517 titles in 1,857 volumes, has been acquired in the late 1960s with a significant number of these books being printed with a movable metal type—some of which predates the1590s. These volumes are housed in over 700 cases and are printed, either with woodblocks, movable wood or metal type fonts, on Korean paper made from mulberry tree fiber. The Conant collection, which is another highlight of the Korean collection, consists of Korean war related materials including over 250 books, 74 film reels, 101 audio reels, 19 music reels, over 200 photographs, and his correspondences between himself and the United Nations, etc.
The Korean collection covers a variety of subjects in the humanities, social sciences and arts with substantial holdings in history, philosophy, religion, arts, classics, and literature. In addition to this, as a member of the Korean Collection Consortium of North America, the collection emphasizes subjects such as Seoul, popular culture, fine and performing arts, education, psychology and Korean history between 1864 and 1945.
The Korean collection primarily supports the teaching and research of the faculty and students in the Korean Studies programs at Columbia University via the online catalog CLIO, but resources are also available to researchers nationally and internationally through Borrow Direct, and Interlibrary Loan Services. For more information on searching the Korean materials, please refer to the Library Research Guide.
If there are any questions, comments and requests for the addition of materials regarding the Korean collection, please contact the Korean Studies Librarian.