Welcome to Peking University Library

Founded In 1902

Library Buildings

A library's building bears directly on its collections and reader service. Spacious library rooms and modernized facilities always remain one of the material conditions for a good library. For the past hundred years the Library has seen its site change more than once, marking a journey from scarcity to amplitude, from narrow spaces to magnitude, and from tradition to modernization.

As the predecessor of Peking University, the Imperial University of Peking was the product of Constitutional Reform and Modernization of 1898, with Emperor Guang Xu issuing the mandate for its foundation. Because of the corruption of the Qing court, however, social and political situations had remained unstable, and it was not until 1902 when the Imperial University of Peking was restored that its book collection building was able to find its site at the Harem in Jia He Princess's Mansion at Ma Shen Temple inside the Gate of Earthly Peace.

Peking University Library's journey through the different sites can be roughly divided into 5 important periods:

In October 1918, the Library under the directorship of Li Dazhao moved to the first floor of the Red Building at Sha Tan, together with two affiliated libraries. The Library's condition benefited from this move. Meanwhile, plans had been made to raise funds from domestic and overseas sources so that a new library building might be built.

September 1935 saw the completion of the new library building and its opening to readership. This started the Library's journey toward owning a relatively independent and modernized building. The new library had a built-up area of up to 6,600㎡, with a capacity for 3 hundred thousand books. Its facilities and the technology it adopted were up to date, making it a first-rate library in the country then. The building of the new library enlarged the Library's openness to readership, its general layout more proper, lending itself to modernized management, and thus paving way for future development in material conditions.

With the nationwide restructuring of schools and disciplines in 1952, Peking University Library moved to Yenching University Campus, the Library of the latter school incorporated into the former. As the result of this reshuffling, the site of the former Yenching University Library became the new main library of Peking University. But due to the limited space of the Yenching library, and with the incorporation of its books, Peking University library suffered the inadequacy of spaces. A new library building was at once everybody's vision, and this even attracted attention from Premiere Zhou Enlai, but the vision failed to actualize due to various reasons.

In 1970s, Peking University Library was handicapped by a dire limitation of useable spaces, its books stored in 15 separate places, making it difficult for the staff to run the Library and for readers to check out books. With sustained effort, a new library building rose in 1975, with an overall area of over 24,000㎡ and 2,400 seats, and with a capacity for 3.6 million books, easily topping its counterparts in the country with the largest built-up area and the best facilities. The completion of this new building laid the foundation for the recovery and development of the Library after the Cultural Revolution.

In 1998 when the university was celebrating the first centenary of its birth, yet another new library building was completed, thanks to the donation from the Hong Kong industrialist Mr. Li Ka-shing. This new building was designed with an outlook onto the future, accommodating modern computer and network technologies. It was connected to the old one, increasing the overall built-up area to as large as 53,000㎡, bringing the Library to the top of Asia's libraries in space. So the edifice became the first ever library building in Peking University's history with a modern impact, a backbone for the university's effort to build the first-rate university in the world. After the rise of the new building, the Library has enjoyed a rapid development in network electronic resources and reader service.

Changing phases of the Library

The Book Depositary Building of the Imperial University of Peking

The Red Building of Peking University


Form August 1918 to September 1931, the Library was on the first floor of the Red Building at Shatan, Beijing.

The Old Building of Peking University


The Library building in its Song Gong phase was completed at Song Gong Mansion, to the north of the Red Building with a space of 6604 ㎡. It presented the shape of the Chinese character 山 which means "mountain." Today the building is used by the Qiushi Magazine.

National Southwest Associated Universities Library


National Southwest Associated Universities Library at Kunming, Yunnan, was completed in 1939.

Yenching University Library


Yenching University Library was completed in 1926. With the nationwide restructuring of schools and disciplines in 1952, Peking University Library moved to Yenching University Campus, the Library of the latter school incorporated into the former. As the result of this reshuffling, the site of the former Yenching University Library became the new main library of Peking University. After the main library moved to the new building in 1975, this old building was used as reading area and the main stack for back numbers of periodicals from 1975 to 2000. It has become the University Archives ever since.

New Peking University Library (West Building)


The construction of the new building in April 1973 and was completed on December 30, 1974. The Library was shaped like the Chinese character , meaning “coming out.” With an overall area of over 24,000㎡ and 2,400 seats and with a capacity for 3.6 million books, it easily became the largest and best of its kind in the country.

New Peking University Library (East Building)


In 1998 when the university was engaged in celebrations of the first centenary of its birth, another new library building rose, thanks to the donation from the Hong Kong industrialist Mr. Li Ka-shing. This new building (now East Building) was connected to the old one, added 26,680㎡ in space, bringing the Library to the top of Asia's university libraries in space at that time. After the reconstruction of the West Building in 2005, the built-up area increased to as large as 53,000㎡ in total.

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