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  • 2022-04-06
NCL and Two World-class University Libraries Form Collaborative Relationship: The Digitization of Ancient Chinese Books for All to Enjoy
NCL and Two World-class University Libraries Form Collaborative Relationship:  The Digitization of Ancient Chinese Books for All to Enjoy

A new chapter has been written in NCL’s collaborative efforts to digitize ancient Chinese books internationally! In 2021, National Central Library collaborated with Stanford University Libraries and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library to digitize the ancient Chinese books in their collection. Between the two libraries more than 30,000 images were produced.

NCL Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng stated, NCL’s Six Visions and Twelve Strategies clearly outline that international exchange and collaboration are one of the most important policies at NCL and are the basis by which they push forward related endeavors. In an effort to enrich the Chinese studies resources in Taiwan and to regain access to lost rare and ancient Chinese books that were taken overseas, NCL has actively sought to collaborate with overseas institutions and establish a mutually beneficial model with foreign libraries. It is our hope that the precious ancient Chinese books that are in other countries can be utilized by the scholarly world in Taiwan as part of NCL’s digital collection. In addition to adding to NCL’s collection, these works will also raise its position and image internationally.

In 2005, the digitization project began with the Library of Congress. Each year since, NCL has continued to work with large libraries and institutions to digitize the ancient Chinese books in their holdings. Collaborative partners have included the University of Washington Library, UC Berkeley's C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Princeton University Library, University of Toronto Library, University of British Columbia Library, François-Mitterrand Library, and other renowned archival institutes. Last year’s international collaboration partners were Stanford University Library and Oxford University Library. Stanford University Library’s ancient Chinese book collection is quite massive. This digitization project focused on the classics, history, philosophy, literature, and collectanea. There are also geography and political books. Oxford University’s library has a few books that are the only extant copies in the world, including Xu Wending gong Shijing chuangao in 4 juan. It also has several hundred volumes of a rare Daoist manuscript from the Yao people. Given the fact that much research on the Yao is currently limited by a lack of materials, leading to incomplete research, this batch of digitized books will greatly augment resources for the study of Daoism and the Yao people.

On January 5, 2022, Stanford University Library announced that the collaboration project had been completed. It also stated that the rare books digitized with NCL’s help will be incredibly beneficial for scholars researching Ming and Qing scholarship, literature, and history. On July 13, 2021, the article that the library published also praised NCL’s digitized collection project that used high quality and systematic means to collect many rare Chinese books that are found the world over for the public to use again. These are highly beneficial for Chinese studies.

Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng stated that since beginning to promote the international electronic archive of ancient Chinese books project began, NCL has completed the digitization of more than 4,700 titles (almost 3.2 million images) of important rare books. As the pandemic spreads and in-person events are limited, digitized and internet resources are of extreme importance. The international digitization achievements promoted by NCL help users and scholars both in Taiwan and abroad to sidestep the constraints of space and time to personally interact with the rare Chinese books that ended up overseas. Once the images from Stanford University Library and Oxford University Library are finalized, they will be uploaded to the Ancient Books and Special Collections Resource System that NCL created (http://rbook.ncl.edu.tw/NCLSearch). The digitization results from each year’s efforts are also uploaded to the database. In this way, the purposes of collaboration development and resource sharing are achieved.

Last Update Time:2022-04-08
  •  On January 1, 2022, Stanford University Library announced its collaboration with NCL was completed

    On January 1, 2022, Stanford University Library announced its collaboration with NCL was completed

  •  The Ancient Books and Special Collections Resource System provides search and browsing capabilities to the public and scholars

    The Ancient Books and Special Collections Resource System provides search and browsing capabilities to the public and scholars