Due to the current library closure we have had to make some adjustments to how we provide our services. Please refer to the Temporary Closure page for an up-to-date overview of these service adjustments. The below will be applicable again once the library reopens.

This page will explain the use of our library, including Finding Materials  |  Circulation Course Reserves  |  Reference Assistance  |  Computing and Reproduction  |  Local Policies.

Finding Materials

CLIO, the online catalog, includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan as well as Western language records for the entire East Asian collection. Where available, CLIO displays Chinese, Japanese, and Korean original scripts. However, searching is best done using romanization.

Introductions to CLIO are provided during the early weeks of the academic year as part of the library orientation sessions. For quick help with CLIO, use the Feedback/Help menu at the top right of the CLIO screen. You can also use the Ask a Librarian chat service or ask at our service desk for assistance, and Let's Use CLIO workshops are also offered regularly. 

Verify the location of an item in CLIO. If the location is East Asian, the item will be physically in the library. If the location is Offsite, the item will be in remote storage. All materials can be borrowed by CUID holders, unless they are on Reference, on Course Reserves, Folio-sized, or part of the Rare and Special Collections.

For on-site materials, identify the call number in CLIO. Circulating books are located, in call number order, regardless of language, on four levels of stacks (levels 250, 200, 150, and 100). Location charts by call number per stack level are located in the stack elevator, near the stack stairs, and at the service desk.

More than 50% of the collection is stored in ReCAP, the Libraries' offsite storage facility. Offsite materials can be requested directly from within the CLIO record, through the Pick-Up link under Requests in the grey box on the right.

To find periodicals, search by title. Note that CLIO contains information about periodical titles, but does not provide direct links to individual articles. With just a few exceptions only current periodical issues are kept in the library, on display shelves in the second alcoves of the east wing of the main reading room. Chinese and Tibetan on the left (north) side, and Japanese, Korean and Western on the right (south) side. Current issues do not circulate, and need to be read in the library. All other issues/volumes can be borrowed the same as books. Alternatively, you can request electronic delivery of individual articles through the Scan option under Requests in the grey box on the right of the CLIO record.

Missing material will be searched for you. Reader request cards are available for this purpose at the service desk, or you can place a search request electronically through the Request menu in the bar at the top of CLIO.

If Columbia University Libraries does not have what you are looking for, or the item is temporarily not available (e.g. checked out to another person), your next options are Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  The Borrow Direct service can also be used to search for and request materials held by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).



Once you have located the item(s) you wish to borrow in the stacks, bring them to the center of the service desk to check them out. You will be asked to scan your CUID, and a desk attendant will process your item(s).

If you have requested material from offsite that will be place on hold for you behind the service desk, and you will receive notification by email that your material is ready for pick-up. You will be asked for your CUID, circulation staff will retrieve your material, and will then process it for check-out.

Another category of material that can be checked out is course reserves (see below).


Course Reserves

Follow the Course Reserves page for instructions on how to search the Reserves list for required readings for courses. You can also look them up in CLIO. Take note of the call number and present it to circulation staff. Be sure to include the complete number, including dates if noted.

Before 3:00 p.m., items may be checked out for 2-hour periods. The items may be renewed at the service desk if no other person requests them.

After 3:00 p.m., Monday-Thursday, regular reserve items—as opposed to last copy—may be checked out overnight. These items are due back 1 hour after opening the next day.

After 3:00 p.m., Friday, regular reserve items may be checked out for weekend loan. These are due back 1 hour after opening on Monday.

Last copy reserve items must be read in the library at all times, and cannot be checked out overnight.

All Course Reserves must be returned to the East Asian Library service desk, or the book drop outside Kent Hall.

Note that late returns on course reserves carry fines which are extremely high and are rigidly enforced. First hour fines are $2, and then accrue at a rate of $1 for each additional hour. These overdue fines must be paid by check (made payable to Columbia University), or you can pay by credit card at Butler Library only. We do not accept cash.

If you have any problems with reserve materials, please contact our staff by email at or by phone at (212) 854-4318.


Reference Assistance

Our library has no less than six area specialists to assist you. For help with researching a topic, electronic resources, bibliographic instruction, orientation, suggestions for purchase, book donations, or any other questions feel free to contact us at any time.

Tours and orientation workshops are offered at the beginning of each academic year. Schedules are posted around the library, as well as on our blog, and the workshops are also listed in the general Libraries workshops schedule.


Computing and reproduction

Several windows-based workstations are available on the large table near the entrance. They are configured to enable reading as well as inputting Chinese, Japanese, and Korean scripts. The computer near the entrance to the stacks provides access to Japanese stand-alone databases. An additional computer is also available on the 100 level of the stacks.

A Pawprint printer is located along the wall to the right of the service desk.

A self-service scanner and workstation is available in the reading room near the entrance. Follow the instructions on screen.

All equipment is available on a first-come-first-serve basis.


Local policies

No food is allowed. Food in the library attracts pests that damage library materials.

Drinks are allowed, but only in containers such as travel mugs, sports bottles, and anything with a screw top, including water, soda/seltzer, etc. Unacceptable containers include paper cups, even with lids, disposable plastic cups,even with lids and straws, anything with an open top, and anything in cans.

As a courtesy to other patrons, please turn off your cell phone ringer and refrain from conversations in the library.

Keep your valuables with you at all times. Report any theft immediately to a librarian or desk attendant.

All library materials are protected by an electronic security system, and will activate an alarm if not properly checked out at the service desk.


Suggestions or comments about the library, its collections, and its services are welcomed and can be emailed to