East Asian Library - Finding Items in the Library

The East Asian Library and the Gest Collection

普林斯頓大學葛思德東亞圖書館 ・ プリンストン大学東アジア図書館 ・ 프린스턴 대학교 동아시아 도서관

Finding items in the Library

Locations Within the Library

Reference works in all languages are kept in the Jones Hall Reference Room. All Harvard-Yenching books are intershelved together regardless of language; and the same holds true for LC works. Please do not hesitate to ask the librarians if you cannot find a work. Due to space problems, only the most important reference works are kept in this room: others might be in the stacks. For yearbooks, mostly only the most current copy is shelved in the reference room. There is a small one-day circulating reference section, second copies only, in the Special Collections Room (across from the bibliographers' offices in Frist).


All the other East Asian Library western-language works are located on the third floor in Jones Hall. These include a small collection of uncataloged proceedings of conferences etc., Richardson and LC monographs, and Richardson and Western LC periodicals.

Many current unbound issues of the more important journals are found in the Periodicals Reading Room (across from the circulation desk).

The Western-language Wilhelm collection is located in the Special Collections Room. You can use these works only within the library; they do not circulate.

Currently, East Asian Library Western microforms are stored in the microfilm section in Firestone. The catalog records for such items, however, are only available at the East Asian Library. The few Western rare books are in Mudd Library.

To check out a book, go to the desk assistant, who will tell you what to do.


Non-reference CJK monographs can be found on the fourth floor, but part of the periodical section is on the third floor in Jones. The Chinese Harvard-Yenching bound periodicals are located to the left when you enter Jones, the Japanese Harvard-Yenching bound periodicals are located to the right.

Current unbound issues of many of the more important journals are in the Periodicals Reading Room, along with some newspapers. Other Chinese, Japanese or Korean unbound periodicals are kept in the Periodicals Work Room (324 Frist), where Mr. Hsing-feng Liu and Ms. Sumiko Maeda can help you. Bound LC periodicals are intershelved with the regular LC books, in the stacks on the fourth floor. All bound Korean Harvard-Yenching periodicals are in the Annex.

The main Chinese, Japanese and Korean monograph collections are on the fourth floor. LC works in Chinese, Japanese and Korean are intershelved and take up most of the space; oversize books are shelved separately against the wall.


The few Chinese siku books still located in the East Asian Library are located against the wall in Room 408. All others are in the Annexes.

The rare books are in Mudd Library. To peruse them, ask the Chinese bibliographer for instructions and a permission slip to access them. East Asian Library microforms are stored in the microfilm section in Firestone. The catalog records for all such items, however, are only available at the East Asian Library; consult the East Asian Library catalogs before going to Mudd or Firestone.

The non-circulating so-called hishi collection (copies of rare Chinese works, mainly Ming, held in Japan) are located in the Harvard-Yenching Room. You can use these works only within the library; they do not circulate.

Recently cataloged books are on display on the third floor. You can reserve a book from this collection to check out after the display period is over. To check out a book, go to the desk assistant, who will tell you what to do.

Electronic Catalogs

Main Catalog

First of all there is the electronic Main Catalog (also called Voyager.) You can access the Main Catalog through your own computer.

The Main Catalog will tell you whether currently items are checked out. Only very occasionally you may meet an item for which the electronic catalog entry is still in process, but which exists in the Card Catalog.

There are many ways to search the Main Catalog; consult the online help screens, or a librarian. The most basic search strategies for CJK works are treated below in the section "Electronic Search Strategies."

Supplementary Catalog

All pre-1980 Western books on China and Japan should be in the electronic catalog; only very occasionally one may have to consult the image-based Supplementary Catalog, available through any Library Web Computer.

For search strategies, see the section "Electronic Search Strategies.".

Card Catalogs


In principle, all CJK books are in the electronic catalog, but occasionally there are Chinese, Japanese and Korean titles the electronic records for which are still being reviewed. Note that unlike the electronic catalog, which uses pinyin for Chinese works, the card catalog uses Wade-Giles only.


There are a few special Card Catalogs for pre-1980 Western works which have special sections for EAS Ph.D. dissertations and non-cataloged conference volumes.

Periodicals Flip Files

Titles for older CJK and Western periodicals are most easily searched by using the flip files on top of the card catalog drawers. You have to supplement these flip files with Voyager, where more recent additions and/or corrections are to be found. For closed and/or reprinted titles you should supplement your search by checking the electronic catalogs.

Classification Schemes


There are two classification systems, one for works cataloged before 1980, and one for those cataloged since 1980. Note that this is slightly different from saying "published before or since 1980."


Richardson call numbers consist of numbers only, and contain a decimal point (.). E.g.: 17241.193.2528


Library of Congress numbers begin with at least one letter, mostly followed by (a) number(s) with decimal point, and end with at least one more set of letter(s) and number(s). E.g.: PL758.15.A3 1981

Both sets of numbers can have special designations preceding the main call number (rarely following), which indicate their location. See the section "Special designations."


Also in the case of CJK several classification systems exist; the current system was established in late 1982. Again, this refers to the date of cataloging, not the date of publication.


The pre-1983 call numbers, using the Harvard-Yenching scheme consist of digits separated with a slash (/), e.g.: 5661/5622.1


The post-1982 Library of Congress call numbers are as the western LC ones, composed of letters, numerals and periods: e.g.: BQ344.C55 1985 As in the Western case, both sets of numbers can have special designations preceding the main call number (rarely following), which indicate their location. See the section "Special Designations."


For (almost exclusively) thread-bound Chinese works there is also a third system derived from the old siku classification, in which the four categories jing shi zi ji have been converted into the letters A, B, C, and D. On catalog cards they may appear as 1557 A161 which is to be read as A161/1557: i.e. a work in the ching (A) category. These numbers sometimes have lower-case letters following the numbers, as C188/2775b; these refer to the n-th subtitle in a collectively bound book. Infrequently, clusters of four letters may occur (B187/069.iapi.903); they refer to a specific Chinese character according to a complicated but unimportant method. Non-rare items are stored in the Annexes, rare book items in Mudd Library. If you need assistance, ask the Chinese bibliographer.


Microfilms, microfiches etc. have slightly different numbers, and have (Microfilm), (Mf), (GestF) or (Microfiche) in front of them. This applies to Western and CJK titles. Currently, they are stored in the Microfilm section in Firestone; their catalog records however are still at the East Asian Library.

Special Designations


Some designations preceding the regular call numbers denote special locations and/or collections. East Asian Library Western books, which usually add (Gest) or, for older works, (SYG) in front of numbers, can also have a R or Ref. in front of the (Gest) designation in the case of reference works located in the Reference Room, and a P in the case of Periodicals. An 'N' for non-circulating, 'Q' for oversized, or 'T' or (Rare Books) for rare book occurs sometimes. (Wilhelm) means the book belongs to the Wilhelm collection and is kept in the Special Collections Room; such books do not circulate, but can be used within the library. For your own benefit, you should check whether there is another circulating copy available using the Main and Supplementary Catalogs.

Oversized books can have a lower case q for quarto, e for elephant, f for folio after the number. A lower case s for small books also may occur. Oversized books are increasingly shelved separately, either in a separate section altogether, or on bottom shelves in the vicinity of the non-oversized call number.


For CJK books, there are a few letters which can come before Harvard-Yenching call numbers: all Japanese works have a J, and all Korean works have a K in front of these call numbers. Before the Harvard-Yenching call numbers proper and these language identifiers there also can appear a R for Reference, a B for Bibliography (a subcategory of reference works), a P for Periodical, or a N for Non-circulating (but shelved in the stacks). E.g. RJ1733/3020 is a Japanese reference work, and NP4601/1313 is a Chinese periodical which is non-circulating (presumably it is an index to the circulating issues of the periodical). Books beginning with T are rare books, currently located in Mudd Library. For LC works the rare book designation is (Rare Book).

Oversize books in the LC system follow the same rules as Western books (see above). In the case of Harvard-Yenching numbers, there is a Q before the call number (e.g. QN6130/1342, for a non-circulating oversize book.)

Electronic Search Strategies

Main Catalog

For those books for which a full electronic catalog entry exists (1980 and later for Western books, 1982 and later for CJK books, with some records before these dates as well), the easiest way to search is using the electronic Main Catalog. Use the online help screens to guide you, or ask a librarian if you need assistance.


One easy way of searching Voyager is the "guided keyword" search; type in your search words, word1 word2,
choose the general search category (keyword anywhere is the broadest), and designate whether you want records with either of your words, all of your words, or all of your words as a phrase.

You can set limits to your search beforehand by choosing a language, a date range, etc., from the choices available when you click "Set search limits." Note that such limits work only on full-catalogued records, that is, for CJK works post-1984 only.

For Chinese books in particular, make sure you choose the "search as a phrase" option, which means word1 is immediately followed by word2. Like this, you can make sure that you'll find li lun rather than lun li.

The Advanced Keyword search searches in the same way on a single line, but you will have to learn the special syntax to construct your search; refer to the online help. The Basic Keyword search searches for items with relevance ranking, in a similar way as many Internet search engines. Make sure you want to have your results sorted like that before choosing this option.

author, title

If you are sure of the correct title and author, and want that particular book only, use the Author/Title/Subject/Call No. search. Searches are truncated automatically, that is, you do not necessarily have to type the whole title to the end to find a match. Only some of these searches can be limited.


Find by subject makes most sense if you know exactly how the book would be cataloged according to Library of Congress rules, as available in the red books on top of the Card Catalogs. Often you might first find books on your desired subject in another way, and follow those up by clicking on the highlighted subjects. To see the subjects, make sure you display your results in the long view by clicking on that option.

other rules

When searching for Chinese works in the Main Catalog, you may ignore the aspiration mark used in Wade-Giles (see above, "CJK transcription and filing rules."). Omit initial articles for full bibliographic entries; however, for the short interim entries for pre-1980 Western works you may have to try searching with or without the initial article.

Supplementary Catalog

For the reasons to use this catalog (fewer as time goes by), see above.

Use the Supplementary Catalog as you would do a card catalog; that is, as an image database, not a text database searchable by keywords. The image cards are divided into stacks usually composed of some 100 to 200 cards. The name of such stack amounts to an electronic divider yellow card such as exists in the East Asian Library card catalogs. All normal filing rules apply; in some cases, such as looking for the subject or title China, these might be complicated and you might benefit from reading the help screens for the filing rules .

You search by clicking once on the search bar, and typing in the first word only (omitting articles) of the search (title, subject, or last name of the author.) Then click "go" for the actual search.

The search result will be a card stack close to the requested word. Note that, unfortunately, the search engine is rather inadequate: the card stack name found might not be the correct one due to a couple of reasons. Make sure the card stack name (referring to the first card alphabetically of the stack) is the right one or, if it is not, click on the correct one to actually open this stack. After that, you can navigate by the self-explanatory buttons, or by filling in the "go" box and pressing the "go" button. Note that since the command "previous cards" is more easily accessible than "next cards" (at the top rather than the bottom of the page), it is easier to jump to the end of the card stack and work one's way backward rather than to move forward from the beginning.

To initiate another search click on the "search string box" button.

Unfound Items

The various electronic catalogs may not always accurate concerning the precise location of the books within the East Asian Library. Also, some special designations such as R or Wilhelm (see above), including sometimes the Annex locations, may not always be correct on temporary records. Make sure the desk assistant checks all possibilities. If someone else has borrowed the book, you can ask for a recall on the book, using the orange forms at the circulation desk, or the electronic form on the Library Web Catalog. If the book seems to be misplaced, please fill out a trace request: library assistants will do everything possible to locate the book, and you will be notified. If found, the book will be held for you for ten days on the hold shelf.

Non-cataloged items

If you cannot find the item you are looking for, do not hesitate to come to one of the bibliographers (Korean: Mr. Hyoungbae Lee; Japanese: Ms. Setsuko Noguchi; Chinese: Joshua Seufert) or submit a request using this form. There is still a fair chance they will be able to locate a book, by verifying your entries, consulting the order files, etc. Also, they will be more aware of some rare exceptions to the rules. They also have access to works recently received and works still on order; the former will be rush cataloged for you if needed. ("Recent" might mean up to three years.) You will be surprised how often they will be able to locate the book after all!


If the reference librarians determine that the library does not have the desired book or periodical, one can ask the reference librarian to order the book (which takes a long time), request the book through Borrow Direct, or request the book from another library through the East Asian Library interlibrary loan services from another library anywhere in the US. East Asian Department patrons' requests are automatically handled by EAL staff (who will be able to help you locate difficult-to-find Chinese, Japanese or Korean material.) Other patrons, if they often need such assistance, can request to be transferred to the East Asian Library by sending a request to that effect to gestcirc@princeton.edu, with as subject "ILL Account Transfer Request". You may also send the request using this form. Note that if you choose this option, all your requests will be handled at the East Asian Library, regardless of language and pick-up location. For articles, one needs full page information: most libraries do not lend periodical issues through interlibrary loan, but will make a copy for you of the article requested.