Collection areas

Photograph of a library space with shelves of books and red booth seating

General East Asian Collection

The General East Asian Collection consists of over 100,000 contemporary books and periodicals in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, with subject coverage mainly in the areas of humanities and social sciences. They are housed on level 2 & 3 of the ERC Library.

The General East Asian Collection also contains extensive online resources (including e-books, e-journals and databases in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages) that University of Melbourne researchers and students can access online.

Rare East Asian Collection

The Rare East Asian collection can be searched via the University Library Catalogue.  For Rare East Asian materials search under Baillieu Special Collections in the catalogue.

  • The Harry Simon Collection

    The Harry Simon Collection consists of 665 books published in classical Chinese from 1743 to the 1990s, drawn from the private research collection of Professor Emeritus Harry Felix Simon, who was appointed Foundation Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Melbourne in 1960. During his term in office he played an important role in the establishment of teaching and research in the discipline (which later changed its name to East Asian Studies), including the teaching of Chinese and Japanese languages. Materials in the collection consist of books in Chinese literature and language, history and the arts.

  • The Thomas Chong Collection

    Thomas Chong was a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who conducted his practice in Bairnsdale, Victoria, from the 1920s to the 1940s. His professional library was presented to the University by his daughter Dorothy Chong in the late 1990s. It consists of 214 books published in classical Chinese from 1691 to the early 20th century. In addition to the published material, there are ten notebooks in manuscript form, and several small bundles of herbal orders addressed to wholesale distributors in Melbourne. The latter are inscribed in the traditional manner using black ink and brush on rice paper.

    Most of the collection focuses on traditional Chinese medical theory and practice, and includes such categories as Herbal Medicine and Prescriptions, Internal Medicine, Surgery and Chinese Medicine Cases.

  • The R.F. Price Collection

    The R.F. Price Collection comprises of 1,054 Chinese books published from 1912 to 2000, with a strong focus on school textbooks and children’s books, which are rarely found in Australian libraries. It was donated to the University in 2007 by Dr Ronald Francis Price, a scholar of comparative education, who has written widely on education in China. Born in the UK, he taught there, in Bulgaria, Ghana, and in the School of Education at La Trobe University. In 1965 he taught English at the Second Foreign Languages Institute, Beijing, returning to the UK in the summer of 1967. Some of the collection items were acquired by Dr Price during his stay in Beijing, others in subsequent visits to China or Hong Kong.

  • The Valery Garrett Collection

    The Valery Garrett collection was acquired in 2019. British-born Valery Garrett (1942-) has lived in Hong Kong since 1973. She trained as a designer and is an authority on Chinese dress. The purchased component contains 57 craft and design patterns, photographs and objects relating to the history of early-to-mid 20th century Chinese dress. The donation comprises nearly 400 Chinese posters, photographs, porcelain figures, textiles and objects used in daily life dating from the mid-late 20th century, in particular the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) period.

  • Chinese Literature

    The Chinese Literature Collection contains classic literary works by important writers in Chinese history.  In particular, first edition works from the Chinese Republican Era (1912-1949) are well represented. The publishing houses that produced these works have not existed since the 1950s, and the materials they printed are invaluable for research on modern Chinese literature as well as the publishing industry in the Republican era.

  • 20th Century Political Campaigns

    Developed since early 2000s, the collection features hundreds of diaries, posters, and newspapers from the Cultural Revolution era and earlier. These are very important primary sources for the study of contemporary Chinese political, social and cultural history.

  • Japanese Postcards Collection

    This collection comprises more than 400 postcards commemorating various events in early 20th century Japan. Among these are postcards of military and naval manoeuvres, images from the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and subsequent reconstruction, sports events at the Meiji Jingu Stadium, Japan's occupation of Manchuria, and a reprint set of Utagawa Hiroshige's 53 Stations of the Tokaido ukiyo-e illustrations.

  • Chinese Official Dynastic Histories

    Twenty-four official dynastic histories have been compiled throughout Chinese history. The East Asian Collection holds the complete set (796 volumes) of the Twenty-four official dynastic histories published in 1934 by Shangwu Yinshuguan. This set was based on the highest quality extant editions of each title. The collection also features over 200 volumes of Chinese official dynastic histories published in Edo Japan. Those Japanese publications were all based on early Chinese editions.

  • Buddhist Sutras

    The Collection features Buddhist texts published in late 19th and early 20th century China. Some are printed by renowned publishers in the area such as the Jingling and Jiangbei Carving Offices.

  • Chinese Classics

    An extensive array of books including the Six Classics, as well as volumes on exegesis, grammatology, and phonology, such as the 1643 edition of Five books on phonology by the famous late Ming/early Qing scholar Gu Yanwu.