Over the past three decades, the East Asian Library has built a sizable collection of monographs, serials, and microfilms. The Library's main collection currently has more than 150,000 volumes, of which more than 130,000 are in Chinese, about 7,500 in Japanese, and about 2,500 in Korean. At present, the Library subscribes more than 200 titles of periodicals and newspapers and its collection of back issues compasses over 1,000 titles. The Library also holds over 5,000 reels of microfilms of texts from newspapers and rare books.
Though the Library's collection is comprehensive, its strength is in humanities and social sciences. The Chinese collection is particularly well developed. With its extensive holdings in dynastic histories, collectanea, and local gazetteers, the Chinese collection is particularly strong in history, (the Ming-Ching and Republican periods), classics, literature, religion, and philosophy. The Japanese and Korean collections focus on language and contemporary literature. The latter was mainly obtained as gifts from the Korean government.
Recently, the Library's special collection was enriched by receiving some 4,100 books and 2,000 volumes of journal in Chinese medicine from the private collection of the late Professor Kuang-chung Ho of the University of Singapore, Singapore. Most of the books offered by the late Professor Ho are in traditional thread-stitched binding. These books include two complete sets of Dynastic Histories, encyclopedias, compendium, commentaries on I-Ching, and works of individual writers. Some of the titles are block-printed rare books.
The Library's special collection also include:
- A unique collection of photographs of various locations and individuals in China that were released from Xinhua News Agency of Beijing. The black and white photographs (about 1,100) cover the period between 1960s and 1970s.
- A microfilms collection consisting of over 4,000 reels of the text from rare books from the National Central Library of Taiwan.
- Special Collections and University Archives (located in the basement of Alexander Library) contains the William Elliot Griffis Collection, which consists of more than 250,000 items that document the experience Westerners in Japan, the roots of Japanese-American relations, and the special friendship between Japan and Rutgers during the Meiji period (1868-1912).
The Library has a comprehensive set of reference tools in Chinese and a limited collection of Japanese reference tools. Some reference works are also available in Chuang, Miao, Tibetan, and Vietnamese.
The majority of the Library holdings can be searched through the , the online catalog for Rutgers University libraries. A portion of the holdings can only be searched by card catalog (located in the East Asian Library, on the second floor of Alexander Library). The East Asian Library collections can also be searched in the RLIN database, a national bibliographic database with vernacular language display for library collections in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages.
Nelson Chou/Jeanne Boyle (June 24, 2003)