Discovering Chinese Materials: Books

How to search and discover Chinese materials?

Regular Books

Library Catalogs

Chinese-language books, and journals, rare books and special collections and other library materials as well, can be found by searching library catalogs such as CLIO and WorldCat

When searching CLIO, the Chinese Romanization system should be used is Library of Congress Pinyin, which is based on China's Pinyin system but has significant exceptions. You may look at the examples listed in Library of Congress New Chinese Romanization Guidelines to understand the exceptions. The linked files also include a table of Correspondence of Wade-Giles to Pinyin. You may also easily find the table of conversion between Wade-Giles and Pinyin online.

You may use Chinese characters for searching Chinese language materials in CLIO, but Chinese character search may not yield the best or needed search results. Using Chinese or other East Asian scripts in CLIO for searching is not recommended.

However, almost all CLIO records are included in WorldCat. WorldCat can be searched by using either Library of Congress Pinyin or preferably, Chinese characters, either traditional or simplified, to see the holding status at Columbia and elsewhere. Many researchers simply start by searching WorldCat, and then automatically connected, or go back, to CLIO to find the call number (a library item's unique ID and location number). Please note that not all library materials of Columbia found in CLIO are available in Worldcat. Most materials available in CLIO are in WorldCat though. New order records and materials to be processed and cataloged can not be found out in Worldcat.

The records of regular books normally have Library of Congress subject headings and classification numbers, which may lead you to find more books of similar subjects. Once a needed book is found, if the book location in the library and the call number is known, you then go to the book stacks to find the book according to call number map available in the Circulation Desk or visible in the library elevator and on the wall. You then may pick up the book and check out the needed book in the Circulation Desk.

In the library stacks, regular books are inter-shelved together with Japanese, Korean, Tibetan and Western-language books of the same subject headings.

Request from Offsite

From the CLIO records, you may find many books’ location is Off-site, then you need to “Request from Offsite”. About 70 percent of the library book collections are located in the Off-site Library Shelving Facility (or ReCAP, Research Collections and Preservation Consortium). ReCAP is a shared storage facility of Columbia, Princeton, New York Public Library, and recently Harvard in the James Forrestal Campus of Princeton University in New Jersey. The needed books in ReCAP can be delivered upon request to the library or a different library for you to pick up and check out.

If you see location Off-site in a book’s CLIO record, you please click on the "Request from Offsite" link and fill out the online form, or fill out the request form in person at the Circulation Desk if you are not an affiliate of the university and do not have Columbia UNI. You cannot fill out the online form if you do not have Columbia UNI. You please feel free to ask the Circulation Desk staff to help you with the request. This is applicable for requesting all materials, including journals, rare books, special materials, and multimedia materials, etc. that are stored in ReCAP.

“Request from Offsite” has the option to request the needed pages to be scanned and sent to you electronically. Accurate bibliographic information and pagination information are essential for successful online request and electronic delivery.

Other Catalogs

Besides CLIO and WorldCat, one may sometimes need to use others catalogs for bibliographic information, particularly leading ones of the Greater Chian Area such as

  • CALIS (China Academic Library and Information System) (中国高等教育文献保障系统联合目录) of mainland China
  • NBINet (National Bibliographic Information Network) (全國圖書書目資訊網聯合目錄) of Taiwan
  • HKALL (Hong Kong Academic Library Link) (香港高校圖書聯網 or 港書網).

In addition to regular books, the library has big collections of Chinese e-books, which is accessible anytime, rare books, which is accessible in the Kress Rare Book and Special Collection Reading Room during its open hours, and special collections, of which most are to be processed and made accessible later.

Chinese Studies

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Chengzhi Wang
C.V. Starr East Asian Library
212 854 3721