Learning webinar

Watch our Introduction to the Asian Language Collections webinar for an overview of collections, search strategies and highlights from the Chinese and Japanese collections.

Asian Study Grants

The Library’s Asia Study Grants program provides researchers and PhD students with the opportunity to research the Library’s Asian language and Asia-related collection, where scholars have privileged access to collection materials, facilities and staff 

Wu cai shi zhu zhai shu hua pu 五彩十竹齋書画譜 by Hu Zhengyan nla.cat-vn2539636 
Wu cai shi zhu zhai shu hua pu 五彩十竹齋書画譜 by Hu Zhengyan nla.cat-vn2539636 

The National Library’s Chinese collection is a rich source of information on the history, culture and current affairs of China. The Library actively collects materials from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and has been steadily building its digital collections on China. The collection contains Chinese-language materials in a range of formats, including:

  • Books;
  • Journals & magazines;
  • Newspapers;
  • Historical texts & rare books;
  • Images;
  • Maps; and
  • Online databases

The collection covers all subject areas but primarily focuses on the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on history, culture, society, economic, politics and government of modern and contemporary China.

The Chinese collection is strong in local gazetteers, collectanea, writings of individuals of the Qing (1644–1912) periods, rare books (from the 12th to 19th centuries), and primary and secondary sources for the study of the history of modern and contemporary China. The Chinese collection plays a vital role in the growing exchange of information between Australia and Asia.

This guide provides guidance on searching and locating material in the Library’s Chinese collection, using the Library’s eResources and featured collection items. It also provides information on key resources and information from other sources and some recommendations for researching Chinese-Australian family history.

Access to the Chinese collection

Print material can be requested through the catalogue using your Library login and viewed in the reading rooms when you visit the National Library’s building.

Most books and journals will be delivered through the Main Reading Room but special formats such as maps, artworks, rare books or items from the formed Asian collections from scholars and bibliophiles will be delivered through the Special Collections Reading Room.

Some materials in the collection are digitised and made freely online available, examples are:

Chinese eResources are accessible from home using your Library login.

You can also use the Copies Direct service to request a digital reproduction of an item and have it sent to you via email. Please note there may be copyright restrictions when using this service.

Tags: Asia

Collection Highlights

Map of the San-On District 新安縣全圖 (1866) nla.obj-231220841
Map of the San-On District 新安縣全圖 (1866) nla.obj-231220841 

A rare map of Hong Kong drawn by Italian missionary Simeone Volonteri in 1866 held in the Library’s Braga collection, which is one of the finest collections in the world on the history of the Portuguese colony of Macau and provides a rich resource for the study of social and historical developments during the period of Portuguese colonisation.   

Rare items and materials

The Chinese collections include rare and unique 19th Century works, such as the original proclamations issued by the leaders of the Taiping Rebellion (真天命太平天國...) (1853), the Chinese goldfields proclamation on the prevention of fire (皇家告示 : 嚴令謹慎火燭) (1864), the Taoist manual manuscript, and the Road Map from Peking to Kiachta (北京至恰克圖路程圖) (1864).

Not sure where to start?