|Basic Facts about NLC
The predecessor of the National Library of China is the Metropolitan Library
founded in 1909. In 1912, the library opened to the public. In 1916, the
library began to receive legal deposit copies of Chinese publications,
thus functioning as a national library.In 1928, the library was renamed
the National Library of Peiping. In 1931, new premises were built for the
library on Wenjin Street.
Upon the founding of the People's Republic
of China in 1949, the Library was renamed the National Library of Peking.
In 1975, Premier Zhou Enlai approved the plan of the new building. In September
1983, Deng Xiaoping wrote the calligraphy for the name of the library.
The new building was completed on July 1, 1987, and was inaugurated on
October 6 of the same year. On the authorization of the State Council,
the library was renamed the National Library of China on December 12, 1998.
Outline of the Collections in NLC
The National Library of China has a large and comprehensive collection,
including items in foreign languages and many rare books. As of the end
of 2004, NLC has a collection of 24,556,469 volumes/items, with an annual
increase of 600,000-700,000 volumes/items, ranking the fifth among national
libraries all over the world.
One of the earliest collections in NLC is
that of Royal Jixidian in the Southern Song dynasty. The earliest-dated
collection is that of the inscriptions on animal bones and tortoise shells
in the Shang dynasty. NLC’s special collections of treasures include a
million volumes/items of rare books, epigraphs and rubbings, ancient maps
and atlas, Dunhuang manuscripts, books and maps in the revolutionary historical
documents, local histories and genealogies. Among earliest editions in
foreign languages, there are incunabula printed in Europe during 1473-77.
The National Library of China has the
largest collection of Chinese publications in the world, collecting all
books published in China. NLC also puts emphasis on the acquisition of
unpublished materials in China, and has a large collection of publications
in library and information science, a center of Chinese yearbooks and a
special collection of publications of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao regions.
NLC is also a depository library of Chinese doctoral dissertations, recognized
by the Committee of Academic Degrees, the State Council.
NLC has a collection of publications
in foreign languages dating from the 1920s, the largest of its kind in
China. As one of the depository libraries of UN publications, NLC collects
publications of international organizations and foreign governments.
With the development of various information
media and electronic network services, NLC has been collecting numerous
items of microforms and AV materials, about 100 CD-ROM databases and more
than 8,000 titles of electronic publications.
Collection Development Policy
The collections of the National Library of China can be divided into three
general classes, i.e. preservation copies, basic collection copies and
lending copies. The preservation copies are collected for long-term preservation
and are not allowed for circulation. The basic collection copies can be
circulated for reading, but not for lending. Both the preservation copies
and the basic collection copies comprise the permanent assets of documents
of the library. The lending copies are acquired for lending purposes, and
can be discarded according to their usages. We can say that all the first
copies of Chinese publications are considered to be preservation copies,
the second copies are considered to be basic collection copies, and the
remaining copies are considered to be lending copies.
The National Library of China acquires
its new collections through legal deposit, donation and purchasing for
Chinese publications, and through purchasing, donation and international
exchange for foreign publications. It has collection coordination and resource
sharing cooperation with the other four libraries, which focus their collections
respectively on agriculture, medicine, geology and military science.
The collection of publications in foreign
languages should reflect the wide coverage of geographical areas and the
diversity of languages. There are publications in more than 130 languages
in the library.
The general principle for the collection development
of the library is "Completeness for Chinese publications and quality for
foreign publications", which means that we should collect all Chinese publications
and best foreign publications. NLC is to become an international center
of Chinese publications and all publications on China and the Chinese,
and plan to further develop its traditional characteristics in Chinese
ancient books, Orientalia, history of arts, archeology, Dunhuang scrolls,
natural history, genealogy, local chronicles and yearbooks.
Chinese Printed Publications:
The National Library of China should
receive all legal deposit copies, and then classify them into three categories,
i.e. permanent collection copies, temporary reading and lending copies
and discarded copies (for publication without collection values). In addition,
the library should purchase additional copies of Chinese monographs for
reading and lending purposes. The library collects all Chinese doctoral
dissertations and post-doctoral research papers, and selectively collects
master's theses and overseas Chinese academic dissertations. The library
puts emphasis on the collection of scholarly books published in Taiwan,
Hong Kong and Macau regions.
Foreign Printed Publications:
The National Library of China has four levels of acquisition priorities
for printed materials published in foreign countries according to the contents
of the materials.
The highest level is the Comprehensive Collection
of all publications in the following aspects:
Then, there are the second level for the Key Collection
of important academic works, such as overseas Chinese publications
and foreign translations of Chinese books, works by overseas Chinese, representative
works of major literary and artistic schools, monographs in library and
information science, books relating to the neighboring countries; the third
level for the Selective Collection of some textbooks, literary works and
popular books; and the fourth (the lowest) level for the general children's
books, low-level textbooks, patents, calendars, technical reports, etc.,
which are not to be collected in the library.
Works by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Il'ich Lenin, Joseph Stalin,
Mao Zedong, and other notable communist leaders;
Publications on China and the Chinese;
Works by heads of foreign governments or leaders of major political parties;
Works by major prize-winners, such as Nobel prize winners;
Important works in science and technology;
Works by notable thinkers in the humanities and social sciences;
International laws and agreements, constitutions of various countries,
important laws and regulations;
Important comprehensive encyclopedias, dictionaries, yearbooks, etc.
Other Types of Materials:
The National Library of China puts emphasis on the collection of ancient
Chinese books, modern deluxe or limited editions, modern local chronicles
and genealogies, materials relating to Dunhuang grottoes, manuscripts of
notable authors, documents in the languages of ethnic minorities before
1911, photographs of the heads of the government or famous international
For audio/video materials, the library selectively collects representative
works in politics, economics, history, geography, culture, society and
arts according to the usages of the users.
For microform materials, the library collects microform reproductive items
of Chinese periodicals, materials on China and the Chinese, materials of
the UN and some foreign governments, materials related to the Far East.
For electronic publications, the library receives legal deposit copies,
selectively purchases reference works, ancient books, important abstract
and index databases, important full-text electronic journals according
to the needs of the users.
With the development of the National
Digital Library Project, the National Library of China will collect more
digital publications and promote the dissemination of Chinese publications
to the world. The collection development policy will be revised in a certain
period of time to reflect the latest development of librarianship in China.
However, the general principle will not be changed: to preserve our cultural
heritage and to provide service to the users.