Rare Books, Special Collections, & Archives
The C. V. Starr East Asian Library owns many rare and unique materials in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Western languages. These non-circulating materials, which include valuable art folios and special collections, are available for use by readers in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room. The entrance is at the East End of the 200 level of the stacks.
Please read the Guidelines for Reading Room Use before visiting the Kress Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room.
Rare Books and Special Collections
The Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room provides access to the rare book collections, especially strong in Chinese local histories and genealogies, Japanese Edo-period woodblock-printed books, and the Korean Yi Song-yi Collection of rare books, as well as such non-print collections as ancient Chinese oracle bones, Chinese paper gods from the early twentieth century, and Edo-period ukiyo-e.
- Chinese Rare Books and Special Collections
- Korean Rare Books and Special Collections
- Tibetan Special Collections
- Japanese Rare Books and Special Collections
- See Archival Collections below for information on the Japanese archival collections
- Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections
Digital exhibition in honor of Columbia's 250th anniversary celebration (on display October 8, 2004 - January 28, 2005). Includes materials from Columbia's East Asian Collections.
- Abe Kōbō Collection, 1933-2002 (finding aid)
- The Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection, 1964-2003 (finding aid)
- The Conant Collection (Conant Collection website)
- Letters to Donald Keene from Japanese Literary Figures, 1952-2004 (finding aid)
- Makino Mamoru Collection on the History of East Asian Film (Makino Collection website)
Makino Collection Symposium (November 11, 2011)
Makino Collection Blog: Archiving East Asian Film Studies at Starr Library
- Tharchin Collection (description and intake list)
Hours and Contact Information
||Librarian on Duty||Summer / Intersession|
|Monday||2-4 pm||Beth Katzoff
|10 am-noon / on-call|
Beth Katzoff (Archival/Public Services)
|2-4 pm / on-call|
Ria Koopmans-de Bruijn (Head Public Services/East Asian Studies)
Ria Koopmans-de Bruijn (Head Public Services/East Asian Studies)
|10 am-noon / on call
|Friday||2-4 pm||Chengzhi Wang
Note: Readers are urged to use materials during normal Reading Room hours. While no appointments are necessary to use materials in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room during regularly scheduled hours, we strongly recommend that before your visit you contact the relevant subject specialist whose materials you may wish to see. A few of our collections are stored off-site and others may have access restrictions. During intersession, our staff are on an on-call schedule.
The phone number of the Reading Room is (212) 854-1989.
Guidelines for Reading Room Use
Readers are asked to follow certain procedures designed to protect and preserve the collections of Starr Library.
The Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room is for special collections and rare book readers only. The materials are for use only under the supervision of library staff and in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room.
To use the collections, visitors must have a valid Columbia identification card (CUID). Non-affiliates need to consult the Library Information Office (LIO), 201 Butler Library, (212) 854-7309, located immediately to the left of the security desk inside the front door of Butler Library before visiting Starr Library. You will need to present a government issued photo ID, tell LIO staff you are planning to use Starr Library collections and estimate the number of days you plan to use the library. LIO may then issue a temporary reader's card providing access to Starr Library. Residents of the New York Metropolitan Area may use our collection as The Columbia University Libraries is a member of METRO, the New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library Agency. Consult our access pages and METRO policy pages.
The Rare Book and Special Collections stacks cannot be browsed. Library staff will retrieve requested item(s) for you. You need to present a completed Rare Books/Special Collections Registration and Request Form for each title (printed forms also available in the Rare Book Reading Room) and a valid CUID. The number of books or manuscript boxes that may be used at any one time is limited.
Please make sure to check CLIO (Columbia University Libraries online catalog) for call numbers before coming to the Reading Room since public terminals are NOT available in the reading room.
Handle the materials with extreme care; many are fragile. Laptop computers and pencils only may be used for taking notes. Pens and indelible markers are NOT permitted. Electrical outlets and wireless access are available in the reading room.
Books and manuscripts must be returned to the librarian on duty when you leave the room.
Food and liquids are NOT permitted in the reading room. Cell phones are NOT permitted in the reading room.
Reproduction services are available, at a charge. Reproductions may be made only by library staff. Please consult the librarian on duty should you wish to have rare or special collections materials photocopied. The fee for photocopies is $.25 per page, and should be paid in cash in U.S. dollars at the time of service. All fees are subject to change without notice. To request photocopying, fill out and sign a Rare Books/Special Collections Photocopy Request Form (printed forms also available in the Reading Room). Many items in the collection, and most bound materials, are too fragile for photocopying. The library reserves the right to limit the number of photocopies made, or to decline to make the requested photocopies. Reproduction requests are subject to approval by the appropriate subject specialist, and are filled as staff is available. We cannot commit to specific dates for completion. If approved, you will be notified when the materials are ready for pickup. Keep in mind that you may not request entire volumes to be copied. To determine if copying materials in our collection violates copyright law, see The Copyright Advisory Office webpage.
Please click here for information on our publication and digital reproduction policy and procedures. To request photography & digital reproductions, fill out and sign a Reprography Order Form. Select your form from the section C.V. Starr East Asian Library Forms. Prices are as listed on the form. These requests are subject to the approval of the relevant subject specialist and we cannot commit to specific dates for completion.