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            Overview of Library Collections
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Special Collections
 Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau Collections
The NLC has collected Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau collections since 1984,which is important collector and provider of Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau collections in Mainland. The publications cover philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, science, engineering, agriculture, medical science, military science, management, etc. Among the Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau collections, there are a lot of featured documents, some of which are valuable materials for Qing Dynasty history studies rarely seen in Mainland.
You can look up Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau Collections in Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau Collections Reading Room.

Dissertation is one of the NLC's special collections. The NLC's dissertations collection center is appointed by Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council to be the sole institution that fully collects and arranges dissertations in China. It is also the only institution that is responsible for collection of all post doctoral research papers assigned by Human Resource Bureau of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of PRC. The collection rate of doctoral dissertations has amounted to 98% since 1981. In addition, we also collect master papers from some universities, doctoral dissertations from Taiwan, and some dissertations from overseas Chinese.

You can look up Chinese dissertations in Dissertations & Theses Reading Room, while foreign dissertations in Microforms Reading Room.

 Publications of International Organizations & Foreign Governments
Publication of international organizations & foreign governments is one of the NLC's special collections. The NLC ranks the first place in terms of collection history, categories and amount of publications of international organizations & foreign governments. The NLC is also the first preservation library of UN documents, and has collected UN documents since 1947. The collection scope covers publications of UN headquarters and special organizations as well as other international organizations and foreign governmental publications, including the European Union, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asian Development Bank, Congressional Information Service, Research and Development Corporation, and from governments such as the USA and Canada. The publications of international organizations & foreign governments mainly consist of conference documents, statistical data and special subject investigation reports.

You can look up related documents on international organizations and foreign governments in Reading Room for Publications of International Organizations & Foreign Governments.

 Law Reference Collections
The NLC has been always paying attention to the collection of law reference documents. In addition, the NLC also compiles NLC Law Reference Services Manual, helping readers make use of the law reference documents, and introduces the NLC's new arrivals on law to readers periodically, so that law professionals, scholars and students can efficiently use the law reference documents in the Library.

You can look up law reference documents in Legal Reference Reading Room; Chinese newspapers and periodicals about law reference are located in Chinese Newspapers and Chinese Periodicals, NLC North Area.

Chinese Studies Collections
The NLC has been always paying attention to the collection of Chinese studies published abroad. The Library has been providing books and periodicals on Chinese studies in western languages (including English, French, German, etc.), Japanese and Russian, Chinese translations and Chinese monographs on overseas Chinese studies for walk-in users since September 2009. In addition, the NLC also compiles Centre Newsletter and Literature Information periodically, so that the experts home and abroad, scholars, and students majored in related specialty can utilize the documents in the Library for academic research more efficiently.

You can look up documents about Chinese studies in Research Centre for Overseas Chinese Studies.

 Rare Books and Special Collections
The NLC's collection of rare books dates back to the early days of the foundation of the Metropolitan Library. Up to present, the NLC has collected about 280,000 volumes of rare books, among of which there are over 1,600 rare books in Song and Yuan Dynasties. Some of them are the royal collections, and some of them are donated by celebrities and private collectors. Dunhuang Manuscripts, the Zhaocheng Tripitaka of the Jin Dynasty, the Yongle Encyclopedia, and the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature are the four special collections of the Library, attracting worldwide attention. About 10,000 titles of rare books have been microfilmed into microfilms for users' retrieval. Rescue Project of Chinese Rare Books has selected about 1,000 titles of rare books, by which users can comprehend the special collections of the NLC.

The Library's special collections include about 270,000 items of epigraphs & rubbings, over 200,000 volumes of ancient and present atlases in Chinese and foreign languages, over 30,000 volumes of new rare books (15,000 titles), including mainly books and journals in the Xinhai Revolution period, early translated versions of Marxism-Leninism classics, documents before and after the establishment of CCP, publications in anti-Japanese base area and liberated area, and etc., over 35,000 volumes of documents in 16 languages of ethnic minorities.

You can look up rare books in Rare Books & Special Collections Reading Room.

 General Ancient Books
The NLC's collection of general ancient books dates back to the early days of the foundation of the Metropolitan Library. From the perspective of copies, there are block-printed copies of middle and late Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Minguo period, type printing copies, stone-printed copies, photo-offset copies, manuscripts, and so on, among of which are mainly block-printed copies of Qing Dynasty and Minguo period. Among the general ancient books, some are collections of celebrities and famous private collectors, and some are valuable preface and postscript copies.

You can look up general ancient books in Reading Room for General Ancient Books.

 Dunhuang-Turpan Collections
Dunhuang-Turpan collection is one of the NLC's special collections. The NLC began to collect Dunhuang-Turpan collections since 1910. And the NLC microfilmed Dunhuang manuscripts from Britain and France in 1980. Up to present, the Library has collected about 16,000 items of Dunhuang manuscripts, 18,000 volumes of research works on Dunhuang studies, 2,300 volumes of Chinese and foreign languages periodicals, 13,000 photographs, and 100 reels of microfilms. The important collections are microfilms of Dunhuang manuscripts collected by the British Library, National Library of France, and the NLC, photographs of Dunhuang manuscripts taken by Wang Chongmin, Dunhuang Treasures, British Dunhuang Documents, The Corpus of Dunhuang-Turfan Manuscripts, and so on. The collected collections are in western languages, Japanese, Chinese and Chinese ethnic minorities' languages, representing the academic research level of China in this field.

You can look up Dunhuang-Turpan documents in Dunhuang & Turpan Literature Reading Room.

 Chinese Ethnic Minorities' Languages Collections

Chinese ethnic minorities' languages collections are the main components of NLC collections. Up to present, the NLC has collected 34,000 volumes of ancient books in Chinese ethnic minorities' languages (18 languages) published before 1949, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals in Chinese ethnic minorities' languages (31 languages for books, and more than 200 languages for periodicals) published by more than 40 presses after 1949.

The values of ancient books in Chinese ethnic minorities' languages are as follows: providing valuable materials for discussing and researching the disappeared and extant minorities' history; preservation of large amount of region materials through detailed records and expositions; making outstanding contributions to Chinese medical science; providing important basis for academic research for printing history.

You can look up related documents in Chinese Ethnic Minorities’ Languages Collections Reading Room.


Chronicles record the nature, history, politics, economics, personages, culture, science, customs, and products of a certain region, which can be considered as the encyclopedia of this region. The NLC ranks the first place home and abroad in terms of old chronicles (compiled before 1949) collection. About 100 titles of only existing copies of Ming and Qing Dynasties are extremely valuable. You can look up new chronicles (published after 1949) in Yearbooks & New Chronicles Reading Room, while old chronicles in Genealogies & Old Chronicles Reading Room.

Genealogies are the documents which record the pedigrees and deeds of a kinship family, considered as one of the 3 document types of China (national history, chronicles and genealogies), which are valuable humanity materials. The NLC has begun to collect genealogies from the whole society in 1928. Up to present, there have been 105,000 volumes of new and old genealogies, among which 98,000 volumes are thread-bounded volumes. Besides, the NLC has started to receive the donations of newly compiled genealogies since 2001. Chronicles includes professional chronicles, institution chronicles, and specified chronicles. Professional chronicles reflect the development history of a certain specialty or community; institution chronicles reflects the development history of a certain institution; specified chronicles focus on a specified object.

You can look up genealogies in Genealogies & Old Chronicles Reading Room.

 Cultural and Historical Materials
Cultural and historical materials are serial publications compiled by Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at all levels, which mainly collect the first-hand materials of people all over the country. They are distinctive and rarely seen modern historical data. Up to present, Chronicles Library has collected 30,000 volumes of cultural and historical materials from 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.

You can look up cultural and historical materials in Yearbooks & New Chronicles Reading Room.

 Chinese Yearbooks
Chinese yearbooks collected in the NLC have authority, historic significance and effectiveness, covering national comprehensive yearbooks, local yearbooks (including part of yearbooks published in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), statistical yearbooks, professional yearbooks, etc.

You can look up Chinese yearbooks in Yearbooks & New Chronicles Reading Room.

 Reference Books
The NLC's special collection of reference books started in October 1987, which includes Chinese encyclopedias and dictionaries, and Chinese reference books published in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, foreign languages reference books, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, biographical information, bibliography index, etc., the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature (Wen Jin Ge edition and Wen Yuan Ge edition, photo-offset copy) and related series, and so on.

According to the changes of carrier formats and readers' demands, the NLC provides two service manners, one is to set special area for reference books, and the other is to distribute reference books in different reading rooms. You can look up references books in Reference Books, NLC North Area, Comprehensive Reading Room and Foreign Publications Reading Room No.1 in NLC South Area.

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