National Library of China (国家图书馆)
A review of Reading Room for Ordinary Old Books, National Library of China (普通古籍阅览室, 国家图书馆), Beijing.
I have spent several weeks over each of the last few summers at the ‘Reading Room for Ordinary Old Books’ (普通古籍阅览室), the main access point for the National Library of China’s (国家图书馆) holdings of nineteenth and early twentieth century materials, pre-1949 local gazetteers and genealogies. Parts of the collection have been reproduced in collectanea widely available outside of China, but the Reading Room has a great deal of material that is unavailable or difficult to find elsewhere. In addition to gazetteers and genealogies, holdings include autobiographies and biographies, memorial collections, literary and poetry collections, official publications of the Qing and even a smattering of archival materials. In my own research, I have made use of training manuals, memoirs and other writings by and about military men in the nineteenth century. The microfilmed rare books collection of the National Library, consisting primarily of pre-nineteenth century materials, has also been recently relocated to the Reading Room. It should also be noted that the gazetteer collection of the National Library has been digitized [website], but originals remain accessible in the Reading Room.