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The East Asia library collections in the Triangle are the strongest in the Southeast and some of the most rapidly growing in the nation. Duke and UNC have a long-standing cooperative collection development program for East Asia which seeks to maximize acquisitions funding by dividing responsibility for research collections on China (UNC) and Japan (Duke).

Growth in acquisitions at both libraries has been supported by grants from the Department of Education through the Title VI program, the Japan Foundation, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education, the Korea Foundation, and other sources.


The East Asian Collection at Duke University Libraries focuses on Japanese, Chinese and Korean materials in the humanities and social sciences. Our collection encompasses more than 165,000 print volumes, including:

  • 88,000 Japanese materials
  • 57,000 Chinese materials
  • 20,000 Korean materials
  • Many language-specific databases
  • 11,000 e-books in Chinese, Japanese and Korean

The East Asian Collection began in the late 1920s when James A. Thomas (1862-1940), who spent more than 30 years in China managing operations for the British-American Tobacco Company, gave Duke University 1,500 volumes from his personal library.  Beginning in 1964, as the result of an agreement with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke began building a collection in Japanese to support faculty on both campuses; in the 1990s, Duke started collecting Chinese and Korean materials as well to support growing programs on its own campus.

The Japanese collection’s strengths reflect faculty research interests in nineteenth and twentieth century art history, history, literature, popular culture and religion, while the Chinese collection has sought to complement the collection at UNC, focusing on the contemporary social sciences, contemporary fiction, popular culture and film, and the Korean collection’s core fields are history and literature.  All three have strong collections on Buddhism, the colonial experience, and film.

For more information and research assistance contact Kristina Troost, 919-660-5844.


The East Asian Collection at Davis Library was established in 1964 when UNC began teaching courses on East Asia. The University of North Carolina and nearby Duke University have been sharing area studies library resources since the 1930s, and agreed early on to share responsibility for East Asian collection development. UNC concentrates on developing Chinese resources for both schools, while Duke focuses on Japanese material. The scope of this ongoing partnership includes not only library resources, but extends to various library services as well.

At present, UNC library boasts the largest Chinese collection in the South, with a total holding of 174,000 volumes in print*. The library is also actively expanding its collection of digital resources and image materials, such as eBooks, databases, films, microforms and maps from East Asia, in order to support the growing academic programs in Asian studies. The UNC-Duke library partnership enables UNC to rely on Duke’s Japanese collection to meet research needs, and focus on maintaining a teaching collection for Japan. The Korean collection began in the late 2000s to support a new Korean minor program at UNC.

Physical volumes:

  • Chinese: 164,438
  • Japanese: 7,011
  • Korean: 2,093

UNC library’s Chinese collection is strongest in the following areas:

  • Chinese language and literature from the Tang Dynasty (the 7th century) up to the modern time
  • History from the late imperial period (1368) to the present day
  • Art
  • Archaeology and Cultural Heritage resources that include regional focus
  • Religion, with emphasis on Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and Shintoism
  • Cinema and Media, social sciences that includes Chinese Medicine

For more information and research assistance contact Hsi-chu Bollick, 919-962-1278.

Chinese Fisherman

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