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Library Tour

The Beijing Center Library, also known as the Anton Library, was founded in 1998 with just about 200 books. A library stores the books that store its soul. With the effort of many generations of our staff to collect books, the total collections of the library amounted to 27,000 volumes at the end of 2021. It is the largest private collection of books about China written in English within Beijing and one of the largest in China.

The TBC Library leads you to explore different subjects, including Art & Architecture, Biographies, Business & Economics, Culture & Society, Ethnology, Film & Theater, History, Language, Literature, Media & Journalism, Philosophy & Religion, Photography, Political sciences, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Travel, Women’s Studies, Wushu, and Martial Arts. The library also hosts a special history collection open to scholars on the history of Christianity in China in the late Ming and Qing dynasties. This collection concentrates on primary sources and includes books in Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin, and other European languages.

Now, let’s zoom into the TBC Library from a brief introduction of its rare book collections, special collections and significant donations to know more about its rich resources.

Rare books collections

De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas Suscepta ab Societate Jesu (1616) from Trigault, Nicolas and Ricci, Matteo is one of the most important and earliest works on China ever published in Europe. The earliest full account of the Jesuit China Mission, it contains the diary of the pioneer Jesuit missionary in China, Matteo Ricci, edited and brought up-co-date by Ricci’s co-worker in the Chinese Mission, the Flemish Jesuit Nicolas Trigault. Originally written in Italian, Ricci’s journal presents a history of the Jesuit mission in China from the time of Xavier, to Ricci’s arrival in China in 1582, until his death in 1610, the same year in which Trigault arrived in Peking.

Dell’Historia della China (1588) from Mendoza, Juan Gonzalez de was the first systematic study of Chinese society, the first history of contemporary China published in a European language, the first book printed in Europe co contain an illustration of Chinese characters, and the most influential and detailed work on China prepared in the sixteenth century. This history is an editing by Mendoza of the experiences of other priests not only in China but also in much of the New World and Asia generally. The volume in the TBC collection is an Italian translation published in Venice in 1588. It has continued to be reprinted in many languages, the most recent edition being as late as 1944 in Spain. The TBC Library also has a copy of the English edition, entitled The History of The Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the situation thereof, reprinted in Peking in 1940 as simply The History of the Kingdom of China.

Special Collections

This collection is the first edition (expect one that is noted) of Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung in 25 languages, promoted by China in the 1960s and 70s. Because of the red cover and pocket-book size, it is also known as the Little Red Book. Carried by all Chinese during that period, it was supposed to guide them through life in much the same way as the Bible guides Christians. These books are inside a glass case now located in the center of the circulating books section of the Library.

Special Donations

The “Michel Oksenberg Collection” is the personal collection of Dr. Oksenberg from Stanford University. He was one of the most noted sinologists in the US and once served as the Chief adviser to President Jimmy Carter on China issues. His books about China were donated to TBC by the Stanford University Library after his death. This collection contains over 2,200 volumes. In the cases at the back is the multilingual collection about history of the Catholic Church in China. It contains many works of early missionaries.

The above mentioned are just a tip of the iceberg of the TBC Library, come and explore more fun about it!

By Suemmer Luo, TBC Intern