Using the Tibetan Collection

Searching catalogs: Finding Tibetan titles in CLIO

To find bibliographic information on Tibetan materials, search CLIO.

When searching CLIO for a topic, try a keyword search using either romanized Tibetan terms or English terms.

ALA-Library of Congress Transliteration

Records for Tibetan-language materials in CLIO, Columbia's online catalog, employ the ALA-Library of Congress system of transliteration. This schema is very similar to the Wylie romanization used in current western scholarship, with only a few minor differences.

The following table is also available for download.


Spelling correctly for computer searching

Many popular books and internet sites use non-standard forms of spelling which are based on how Tibetan words sound when pronounced, leaving out the many silent letters.

When searching the computer for Tibetan language authors, titles, or subjects, remember to include all silent letters or no result will be obtained. However, if you are searching a non-Tibetan book with Tibetan subject matter, a non-standard keyword search may yield results if the spellings match the popular ones employed in the particular book.

For example:  
S=rnin ma pa sect Result: 336 entries
S=nying ma pa sect Result: 0 entries
K=nying ma Result: 5 entries

Note that the last keyword search yielded 5 titles, 3 in English with popular spellings and 2 from Sikkim which had non-standard spelling in the online records.

Although several punctuation marks are used by the Library of Congress system to differentiate sounds, when typing search terms in CLIO, do not use punctuation.

Locating Tibetan Studies Materials


While modern-format books are intershelved by call number in the general stacks of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, the traditional Tibetan texts (dpe-cha) are shelved in Room 106 (on the 100-level) in the newly designed TIBETAN PECHA COLLECTION area of the Starr Library. Due to space restrictions, about 40% of both modern and traditional-format titles are stored offsite at RECAP, but can be requested for pick-up (with 48 hours advance notice). While the majority of pecha have been bound for circulation purposes, a small percentage remain unbound. For the latter, please first consult the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center database for an electronic copy, or you may request from offsite for reading in the Kress Room at Starr.

Since January 2008, acquisitions ordering for Tibetan titles is done online. Thus, researchers can immediately know when a title has been selected, and estimate when it might arrive.  In addition, preliminary records are now entered for materials received, but for which no full record is available. 

Please see CLIO records for location or status details, or contact the Tibetan Studies librarian if you have any question.

Rare and Special Collections

Rare titles are housed at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Butler Library, 6th floor), or in the Kress Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room at the Starr Library.  Columbia owns some very valuable Tibetan religious works, including early Bon texts as well as a nearly complete Snar-thang edition of the Buddhist canon, published between 1730 and 1732, as well as modern Tibetan historical documents.


  • Serials: Unbound recent issues displayed in Starr East Asian's main reading room; bound issues of previous two years are shelved in Starr's regular stacks; earlier issues are bound and stored off-site. Available for two-week loan.
  • Newspapers: Current issues for some 30-40 regularly subscribed titles are available in the periodicals alcove of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library's main reading room.

Works in other languages
  • Works in Chinese or Japanese are located in the C. V. Starr East Asian Library or offsite.
  • Most Sanskrit, English, French, and German scholarship on Tibetan subjects is housed either in Starr, Butler, or offsite, except for items purchased specially by Barnard College or the Avery Art & Architecture Library.

Reference Help

Dictionaries and other critical reference materials are shelved in the main reading room, and located by call number.  Some duplicate reference materials are also available for use with the Tibetan Pecha Collection on the 100-level.  

If you need help locating materials in the C.V. Starr East Asian Library or elsewhere on campus, please contact the Tibetan Studies Librarian, Lauran Hartley (; 212-854-9875); or the bibliographic assistant, Chopathar Wayemache (; 212-854-1509).


Tibetan Studies Librarian
Dr. Lauran R. Hartley
304M Kent Hall
(212) 854-9875