CADAL (2.5 million Chinese e-books)

July 18, 2014. Princeton users have now access (to at least end 2014) to the huge CADAL ebook collection. We are in the process of negotiation for ensuring access beyond that date.

 CADAL (China Academic Digital Associative Library) is a government-sponsored cooperative project of some 60+ Chinese academic libraries (2014) to create electronic resources for the use of their patrons.  The venture is led by and housed in Zhejiang University, and most major Chinese academic institutions such as Peking, Qinghua, Fudan and Nanjing universities were participants from the beginning. CADAL originally grew out of a China-American Digital Academic Library venture, but only recently a select group of American (and Indian) libraries have received access.

(The major resource created by CADAL is a collection of scanned books (1.7 million in May 2013, 2.5 million in June 2014 ), both in and out of copyright: 224 thousand ancient texts (including the Xuxiu siku quanshu 续修四库全书), 150 thousand republican works, 150 thousand republican periodical issues, 40 thousand newspaper issues, 800 thousand post-1949 books, 320 thousand works in English, 13 thousand special collection works, 4 thousand videos, 55 thousand audiobooks. The collection is constantly increasing. The titles are not full-text searchable; but tables of contents are provided for easy navigation.

 (In addition to the ebooks database, the navigation bar also gives access to some other resources: calligraphic works (shufa 书法), a literary timeline (Zhongguo wenxue biannian shi 中国文学编年史), Chinese medicine (zhongyiyao 中医药), and Audio (yinpinku 音频哭). Note that the video choice, available only in English, brings one to the main ebooks database.)

 Access to the books is dependent on the copyright status of the book: while some free access is available, especially to the ancient texts, access to in-copyright books is restricted to registered users at participant libraries: one borrows parts of books, which need to be returned in order to have them become available to other users. Hence, one first has to register (zhuce 注册), and in subsequent visits to log-in (denglu 登陆) from the database’s sign-in page at (note: this is not the home page as such, and is not easily available from the home page.) Choose “Princeton University” as your affiliation (suozai danwei 所在单位; close to the bottom of the pop-up menu—it may say Princetion). On subsequent visits log-in from this page.

 Activities one performs when logged-in, including borrowing books, note-taking etc., are visible to all users from search pages etc.: hence, make sure to log-out especially on shared public computers. One is not logged out automatically, even not after days. To log-out, go to one’s personal account page (registeredname’s CADAL in the English, registeredname的CADAL in the Chinese interface), and click on tuichu 推出.This account page is available in the top navigation bar, and is also the page from where one returns  books, see one’s borrowing history, etc.  (One can choose to set the interface to English, but only a limited number of top-level screens have been translated.)

 Once logged in, and directed to one’s account page, one can perform a simple search in the search box. On the resulting page, one can somewhat refine one’s search by limiting the result to title or author, and by selecting some rough facets of categories (such as ancient books or republican-period books—note that all categories are listed, even if not applicable), tags (biaoqian  标签 ) or publisher.

Under a cover image of each result, one can choose to see more details on the book, or decide to read it by clicking on the book. If choosing to read it, one is brought to a reader interface where one can display the table of contents, navigate forward and backward within a book, and change the display from one page to two pages at a time and vice versa. Printing (by right-clicking, one page at a time) does not work very well—it may be better to take screen shots.

 Depending on the copyright status of the book, one will receive a request after viewing a couple of pages to check out the remainder of the chapter (jieyue 借阅). One receives a message that borrowing was successful (if the item was not borrowed by someone else), and can continue to read.

 To return the chapter to the CADAL library, navigate to the borrowing page (jieyue in the top navigation bar), where one can see the status of one’s checking in-and-out. Click, if not yet selected, on the weihuan  未还button, and then return chapters by clicking on guihuan 归还 after each chapter one has checked out. And remember to log-out (also possible from this page.)

 One can look at one’s notes, tags, comments, messages etc.  from the navigation bar, and there may be recommendations listed based upon one’s readings.

 Help screens are not very useful. I will be glad to receive further hints from users who are familiar with this database from within China! (