Welcome to Peking University Library

Founded In 1902

Running the Library: Learning from the West and Keeping the Chinese Identity

Upon the founding of the Imperial University of Peking, Liang Qichao sketched the Principles of the Imperial University of Peking on behalf of the government. In these principles, he proposed that "the book collection building is established to gather important books from home and abroad, for the benefit of all kinds of readers and for a broad display of the ways and spirit of the world." This meant that both in the coverage of literature and in scope of readership, the Library would differ from traditional book collection buildings. The new building would not only shelf western books, but would also be modeled on modern western libraries in management and organization.

Peking University Library's journey of the century mirrors the road Chinese libraries have taken from tradition to modernity. The journey has undergone the phases of learning from the west, independent development, and the further growth with unique national characteristics.

Upon the completion of the Book Depository building of the Imperial University of Peking, rules and regulations were made, covering the areas of the staff members' duties and responsibilities, the ways to collect and manage books, and fines and penalties, etc. These measures showed the Library's assimilation of the ways of the modern western libraries, a pioneering act not only in the Library's own history, but an exemplary undertaking as well for other libraries at home.

In the early years of the nationalist government, maladministration plagued the Library, resulting in a severe loss of books.

From 1918 to 1922, Li Dazhao became Chief Librarian of the Library. During his tenure, he made major adjustment in the Library's management. Among the first matters on his agenda was the first set of working principles, Regulations for implementation in the Library Section of the Office of General Affairs, Peking University. Next, he made adjustment in the organizing structures in the Library, making it more adaptable to the ways of a modern library. Besides, he made a point of learning from the overseas libraries in cataloguing, book acquisition, and book loans. In cataloguing, he adopted Dewey's decimal system of categorization with slight alternations.

Yuan Tongli stepped in as Chief Librarian of Peking University Library in 1923 and stayed in office for 3 years. During this period, Yuan was bent on adopting new managing method of the west for rectification of the Library's problems. The overstocked western books were put in order, and new catalogues of collection were compiled. With Mao Zhun as Chief Librarian from 1931, various catalogues were made, such as The Catalogue of National Peking University Library and The Catalogue of Rare Books of National Peking University Library.

In 1935, the Library formally adopted Pi Gaopin's The Decimal System of Cataloging for Chinese Books and had held onto it until 1975, when the Library turned to the Cataloguing Method for Chinese Books. A year after the Library moved to its new site in 1935, the Library finally came up with a comprehensive card-cataloguing system that covered the entire collection of books in the Library. 3 sets of catalogues were made for Chinese and western books, defined by title, authorship, and subject. The year 1936 saw the birth of The Catalogue of Books of the National Peking University Library and The Catalogue of Journals of the National Peking University Library. Starting from 1947, the Library began compiling The Monthly Catalogues of Chinese, Japanese, and Western Books of the National Peking University Library.

With the restructuring of schools and disciplines in 1952, Yenching University Library was incorporated into Peking University Library, and consequently the combined library was reorganized and new rules for cataloguing were made. The Chinese books followed Pi Gaopin's The Decimal System of Cataloguing for Chinese Books, and the western books still held on to Dewey's Decimal System of Cataloguing that the Yenching library had used. The years from 1954 to 1957 saw the successive completions of Rules for Chinese Cataloguing, Rules for Cataloging of Western Books, Rules for Cataloguing of Russian Books, Rules for Cataloguing of Journals, and The Handbook for Acquisitions, etc. It's worthwhile to mention that the Library had followed Yenching University Library's practice and relied on Library of Congress Subject Headings with an interruption of only a few years during the Cultural Revolution, thus ensuring the survival of the most perfect thematic catalogue of western books in the country.

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