About the Korean Studies Collection

This page is also available in Korean.

The Korean collection of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University 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 1953 after the Korean War. Since then the collection has increased and as of June 30, 2019, the Korean collection consists of over 159,000 monographs, 338 currently subscribed serials, and over 3,780 non-book formats such as microfilm, audio-visual and so on. In addition, materials published in North Korea including 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 have actively been purchased since the early 2000s.

Korean rare books and special collections are also included in the Korean collection as they consist of over 700 titles in 2,275 volumes of Korean rare books including the Yi Song-ui Collection, over 155 titles of Korean novels, called “Sin sosol (=Ttakchibon)” 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 dates back to the 1590s. 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 and serials, 130 film reels, 110 audio reels, 20 music reels, over 1,300 black and white photographs, and his correspondences between himself and the United Nations, etc.

The Korean collection covers a variety of subjects mainly in the humanities and social sciences with substantial holdings in history, literature, classics, philosophy, and religion. In addition to this, the library has expanded to collect materials on social sciences such as women's studies and sociology. As a member of the Korean Collection Consortium of North America (KCCNA) funded by the Korea Foundation since 1994, the collection has also been expanded with subjects including Seoul, popular culture, fine and performing arts, education, psychology and Korean history between 1864 and 1945.

The Korean collection primarily aims to support the teaching and research interest 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, or requests for the addition of materials regarding the Korean collection, please contact the Korean Studies Librarian.


Korean Studies Librarian
Ms. Hee-sook Shin
310M Kent Hall
(212) 854-1507