Chinese Multimedia & Film Collections

The library has been actively acquiring Chinese multimedia and film materials, particularly various types of materials of Chinese film studies, through purchase and donation. The collections contain early Chinese cinema, feature films, documentary films, independent films, T.V. series and dramas, avant-garde and experimental cinema and others. Besides, the collections cover Peking opera and other schools of Chinese opera, culture and history series, martial arts of various schools, language learning films and videos, LGBT films, video art, and Chinese classic and contemporary music, etc. The multimedia contents are on a variety of formats, ranging from VHS, CD, CD-Rom, VCD, DVD, LaserDisc, to Blue-Ray, and some titles have Digital Betacam or Mini DV Tape copies. The total number of Chinese multimedia and film items is over 10,000, of which many are to be processed and cataloged.

How to Discover?

Print Catalogs, Indexes and Bibliographies 

Catalogs, bibliographies, indexes, and other reference works, both print and online, are always useful in starting and pursuing research. Examples of reference works of Chinese film studies include:

  • An Annotated Bibliography for Chinese Film Studies 《中国电影硏究书目提要》 by Jim Cheng 程 健, the library director. Call Number (unique ID and location number): PN1993.5.C4 C44 2004g
  • Quan guo bao kan dian ying wen zhang mu lu suo yin 《国报刊电影文章目录索引》. Call Numbers: Z5784.M9 C517 1983; Z5784.M9 C518 1994; Z5784.M9 C518 1995
  • Zhongguo dian ying bian nian ji shi 《中国电影编年纪事》. Call Numbers: PN1993.5.C6 Z465; PN1993.5.C4 Z464; PN1993.5.C6 Z466
  • Zhongguo dian ying da ci dian 《中国电影大辞典》 (China Cinema Encyclopaedia). Call Number: REF PN1993.45 .C92 1995
  • Zhongguo xian dai dian ying qi kan quan mu shu zhi (1921-1949) 《中国现代电影期刊全目书志》. Call Number: PN1993.5.C4 Z476 2009

CLIO and WorldCat

These print reference books, and many more print and digital materials of various formats, can be found in CLIO. Like in searching and discovering any library materials, CLIO, the online library catalog, contains records for all multimedia titles that have been purchased and processed, should be used. New CLIO, with many improved features, should be a good start of discovery. Some to be cataloged may not be included in CLIO.

When searching CLIO, the Chinese Romanization system one should use is the Library of Congress Pinyin, which is based on China's Pinyin system but has significant exceptions. Easy-to-understand examples of these exceptions are included in Romanization Guidelines. Searching CLIO one may find that the East Asian Film Collection contains about many thousands of titles of Chinese films, which have been made ready for use.

However, WorldCat can be searched by using Chinese characters, traditional or simplified, to see the holding status at Columbia and elsewhere. Many researchers simply start by searching WorldCat using Chinese characters, and then back to CLIO to find the exact call number and location of the needed title.

Butler Media Services and Personal Streaming

The updated information at Butler Media Services is also helpful for searching and discovering multimedia materials, particularly materials of film studies. Personal streaming services have been popular for film studies students and researchers.  

Where to Use?

After needed titles are discovered from CLIO or WorldCat, please pay attention to location, call number, and related information. Some multimedia items are in the library, some are in Butler Media Services, and some are in offsite. Some are circulating, which means that you can borrow them. Some titles, actually almost all new DVD film titles, are non-circulating, normally stored in Butler Media Reserves, which means you cannot borrow and take them out of the library. But you can view your needed titles, including titles of Butler Media Reserves, in Butler Media Services.

Butler Media Services is located in 208 Butler Library. Viewing stations are located in Butler 401 (the Periodicals & Microform Reading Room) and support the playback of multiple visual and audio formats. Priority is given to patrons viewing course-related films.

Butler Media Collections & Usage Policies contains clear information in support of use for teaching, learning and research, including course-related screening.

Digital video editing may be needed by faculty and students for the purposes of study and research. Digital Humanities Center, 305 Butler Library, has six Macintosh stations equipped with a relevant suite of tools, including FinalCut Pro, iMovie, Final Draft, Sound Track Pro, DVDStudio Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Podcast Capture in support of learning and research. Reservation of a machine may be made by contacting (212) 854-7547,

Sample Title Lists

To know more about specific titles and their related information to your interest, please check CLIO and WorldCat, and discuss with with the librarians if you cannot find them from the online catalogs. Only some sample titles are listed below: 

Film and Media Events

In addition to active acquisition and promotion of multimedia and film collections and services, the library occasionally holds film festivals and cinema studies conferences in cooperation with academic departments at Columbia and organizations from the Greater China Area, particularly China and Taiwan. The events may be found at the Library News.  


Chengzhi Wang, Ph.D.
Chinese Studies Librarian
307M Kent Hall
(212) 854-3721