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The Beijing Center’s library began in 1998 with just 200 books. Now housed in a beautiful new space decorated in traditional Chinese style, it has grown to nearly 30,000 volumes in open stacks.
The main collection of books about China written in English is the largest private such collection in Beijing and one of the largest in China. Nearly 1,000 volumes are added annually, selected among books published in North America, Europe and China. The main subject headings are 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.
Long before TBC began its mission to educate the West about China, western countries first learned about China from early writings of Jesuit missionaries, merchants, and diplomats.The TBC Library of Chinese Studies has obtained several original copies of these works in the collection: “How the West Learned of China”. This collection dates from 1588 until 1840 (with a few later exceptions).
The Historical Collection contains over 3,000 books from the early 19th century to the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Many books were published in the Qing Dynasty and some are considered rare or collectors items.
This is a multilingual collection mainly of primary sources from around the world on early Christian history in China. Works here are in Chinese, Latin, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, etc. (not English). It contains the work of early Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits and others as well as works from the early local church in China.
Works on the history of the Christian Church in China written in English can be found in the historical collection (1820 to 1949) or in the main collection (1949 to date). The very earliest works by the Jesuit missionaries (Ricci, Trigault, Schall von Bell, Kircher, Martini, Amiot, etc.) are in the collection on “How the West Learned of China”.