Korean Studies Research Guide Original: Korean Rare Books and Special Collections

This guide consists of information to assist students and faculty members in Korean Studies courses and scholars who research Korea related topics.

Rare books and special collections

The library has Korean rare books and special collections including the Yi Song-ui Collection, Sin sosol, and Conant Collection which are highly important sources for Korean Studies. The materials, except Sin sosol (stored in offsite) are for use only under the supervision of library staff and in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room for which the entrance is located at the East End of the 200 level of the stacks.  Please see Korean Rare Book and Special Collection for further information.

Yi Song-ui Collection of Rare Books

The Yi Song-ui Collection, which consists of 517 titles in 1,857 volumes, was acquired in the late 1960s. Yi Song-ui was an antiquarian book dealer in Seoul and became the foremost authority on old moveable type in Korea. These materials include 459 movable type (both wood and metal type fonts), 46 woodblock-printed titles and 12 manuscripts. The materials are housed in over 700 cases and are printed on Korean paper made from mulberry tree fiber. Among those books, two volumes are of an extremely early printed version of “Yongbi Ŏchonga” (volumes 9 and 10) published in the late 15th century. These rare materials now can be searched via Korean Old and Rare Collection Information System (KORCIS) developed by the National Library of Korea. Additionally, the library contributed 37 title in 94 volumes to a collaborative digital project with the National Library of Korea and full-text of these titles is now accessible freely through CLIO and KORCIS.

Sin Sosol

A collection of 155 exceptionally rare, early twentieth-century traditional-style Korean popular novels were published in Korean script under the Japanese occupation and were printed in thin booklets. These novels are deemed unique and no other copies are known to exist, as they were in all likelihood lost or destroyed during the Japanese occupation and the subsequent Korean War. These materials were already microfilmed by the International Data Corporation, and subsequently digitized by Brill International Publisher and can be purchased in microfiche form or as a searchable database.

Conant Collection

This collection consists of Korean related materials donated by Theodore Richard Conant in 2008. Theodore Conant was sent to Korea as a member of United Nations Korea Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA) with responsibilities as a recording technician in 1952. During his 9 year stay in Korea, he worked with Hyong Pyo Lee and other Korean producers to create newsreels, documentary films and propaganda for the United Nations, broadcasting companies and the US Army. In addition, he produced independent documentary films.  Mr. Conant contributed his entire collection on Korea consisting of 130 film reels, 110 audio reels, 20 music reels, over 1,300 photographs, his correspondences between himself and the UN, etc. The library has worked with the Korean Film Archive (KFA) and the Korea University on a cooperative digitization project since 2010, and as a result, 52 out of 130 reels, 130 audio reels, and 1,300 photos were digitized.The digitized materials are accessible via the East Asian library and KFA.   

Korean Studies Librarian

C.V. Starr East Asian Library