Tibetan Studies Introductory Research Guide: Finding Books

A basic research guide for the study of Tibetan societies and cultures across the Himalayan region, with a focus on western-language sources. For a more advanced guide that also includes Chinese and Tibetan resources, see bottom-left links below.

CLIO Search

To find books at Columbia University, start with a Quicksearch in CLIO.  A search box appears in the upper right corner of your screen here, or you may link via http://clio.columbia.edu/. For news and search tips, see CLIO News and Updates.

Repeat your search in WORLDCAT to locate other resources that may not be held at Columbia, but which you can request through BorrowDirect or InterLibrary Loan.

To obtain a copy of a book you have located in WorldCat or any other database:

  1. Go to CLIO (Columbia Library Information Online) to see if it is available in one of the Columbia libraries. 
  2. If a book is not at Columbia or the Columbia copy is checked out, try Borrow Direct
  3. If the Borrow Direct libraries do not have an available copy, try ILL to request a copy.

REMEMBER:  Tibetan names are spelled a variety of ways in their "popular" or English form. Try repeating your searches with alternative spellings.  For example: do a separate search for "Tenzin" Tenzing" and "Tendzin"... or "Gelukpa" "Gelug" and "Gelugpa."  As you continue to find new resources, note the variant spellings and add them to your list of possible search terms.


An ever-growing resource of reviews highlighting new dissertations in Himalayan and Tibetan Studies can be found on this well-curated and helpful website.

PROQUEST Dissertation Database

If full text is not available, PQDT provides abstracts and/or citations.


To find Columbia theses and dissertations that are not available in full-text online (above), search CLIO: Dissertations (this searches both the Library Catalog and Academic Commons). The catalog treats theses and dissertations like books. Search by author, title, keyword or LC subject heading. In the catalog, the term "thesis" denotes both Masters' theses and dissertations. A keyword search for "thesis" and "Columbia University" will find all theses and dissertations produced at Columbia. You may also narrow your search by including the name of the department or school.

ETHOS.  British Library electronic theses online service.

SHODH GANGA. Repository of PhD. theses by students at universities in India. A truncated search for "tibet*" will generate a few dozen related dissertations.

Searching in Tibetan

Records for Tibetan-language materials in CLIO use the ALA-Library of Congress system of transliteration, which is now based on the Wylie Tibetan romanization system!  You can also use Wylie to search WorldCat for additional titles. So, if you are searching for the term བོད་ལྗོངས་, then you would type: "bod ljongs." Likewise, to search for the term མཎྜལ , you would type: mandala.  No need for capital letters or + signs. For details, see the transliteration link above.

Searching in Chinese

The Library of Congress New Chinese Romanization Guidelines easily demonstrate how the pinyin system in CLIO and WORLDCAT differs from conventions used in China. Most notably, join together (without spaces or hyphens) the syllables associated with multi-character surnames and given names, as well as specific geographic names. For example:


Sun Zhongshan


Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo shi gao


Gannan Zangzu Zizhizhou

You may search Chinese characters in CLIO, but a Chinese character search will not yield comprehensive search results. Thus, you should also search using the romanized forms.