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Columbia University: C. V. Starr East Asian Library

General Information

Facility: Columbia University C. V. Starr East Asian Library
Address: 300 Kent Hall, 1140 Amsterdam Ave, M. C. 3901, New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 854-4318
FAX: (212) 662-6286
Hours: Hours of operation

About the library:

The library began in 1902 when the University Trustees approved the establishment of a Department of Chinese, while the Japanese collection was begun in 1927. The library, now housed in Kent Hall, was moved to that location in 1961.

Renovations in 1981 were funded by the C. V. Starr Foundation. These renovations included online cataloging records for the complete collection, a shift to the Library of Congress classification system for all collections, and a universal shelving policy replacing a shelving policy that separated materials by language.

For more information about the Japanese collection, please contact Dr. Sachie Noguchi at 212-854-1506 or via email.

Online Resources

The research guides developed by Columbia University faculty and staff are organized by subject area, and include music subject guides, religious studies, south & southeast asian studies research guides, and more.

The Columbia University Libraries supports and promotes multiple online research tools related to bibliographic management, online searching, and browser plugins. Many of these are usable not only at Columbia University, but also in general.

Columbia University Libraries offer access to spatial and numeric data collections, including collections in economics, health, and international data.

A collection of audio tours through the C. V. Starr Library's collections, these are enhanced podcasts, which occasionally include images as well as audio. They will play on the web using Quicktime or iTunes, or when downloaded to a video-capable iPod. They are offered in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan.

An online exhibition from the C.V. Starr East Asian Library detailing Cornelius Vander Starr's life and work. This includes digital images from the library's collections, complete with annotations and detailed information available.

Summary of Collections

Collection size: as of January 2014 the C.V. Starr library hed nearly 1 million volumes of which nearly 353,000 are in Japanese.  The C. V. Starr East Asian Library collection focuses primarily in the humanities and social sciences, with large holdings in literature, history, philosophy, religion, fine and performing arts, business and economics, and East Asian studies.

Notable Collections:

  • Japanese Rare Books: begun in 1928 with 584 woodblock-printed books donated by the Imperial Household, this collection has been gradually developed since.
  • Makino Collection (牧野コレクション): purchased by Columbia University in 2006. The collection is comprised of approximately 80,000 items, primarily print materials relating to Japanese film that were collected by Makino Mamoru(牧野守)who was a documentary filmmaker and film researcher. The collection also includes information from Okinawa, China, Taiwan, the former colony of Machuria, and South Korea. As processing is ongoing, the total collection is not available for use. However, patrons may search the current draft of the finding aid on the collection's website, or speak with the archivist through email, phone, or in person.
  • Letters to Donald Keene from Japanese literary figures, 1952-2004: this collection contains letters, postcards, manuscripts, published papers, and other ephemera from Professor Donald Keene, one of the world's most foremost scholars of Japanese literature, history, and culture.
  • Abe Kōbō collection, 1933-2002: this is a collection of original books, pamphlets, journals, magazines, manuscripts, and ephemera produced, published, and collected by Abe Kōbō.
  • Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection, 1964-2003: this collection contains slides, photographs, A/V materials, realia objects, personal papers, and other ephemera collected by Barbara Curtis Adachi.
  • Tibetan Studies Collection: is one of the most extensive in the country, number over 12,000 volumes of Tibetan-language print materials. There is also a large number of electronic texts and archival items included in the collection.


Online catalog:


The Columbia University Libraries provide access to over 1,500 databases, including many pertinent to Japan-related research and approximately ten Japanese-language databases.

Please note: the majority of these databases require the user to either be present on the Columbia University campus, or to log in with a user ID and password provided by Columbia University.

Originating from several institutions both in America and Japan, the Global Performing Arts Consortium was created in 1997 by Karen Brazell to utilize new technologies to provide global access to a wide range of diverse performing arts. With a background in Japan-related research, Brazell's emphasis for the database was primarily Japanese peforming arts. American, Chinese, and Russian performing arts are also represented in the database.

GloPAD, the consortium's database, includes multilingual authority records, digital images, texts, video clips, sound recordings, and complex media objects, all related to the international performing arts.

How to Use the Facility

Access to the Columbia University Libraries may be free for alumni, students and faculty from SHARES institutions, and faculty from other universities. For non-affiliated patrons, reading privileges may be purchased for $55 per month, and borrowing privileges may be purchased for $100 per month. For more information, please see the Access for Alumni and Visitors webpage.

Digitization and Copying Services

The Preservation and Digital Conversion Division provides all patrons with reproductions. Self-service photocopiers and printers are also available, payable with a Flex Card, which can be purchased by visitors at the Flex Value Transfer Station (VTS) vending machines located in Avery Library, Barnard College Library, the Business Library, Butler Library, Lehman Library, and Teacher's College Library.

A black-and-white photocopy is $0.10 per letter-sized page, or $0.20 per 11x17 page. Color photocopying is $0.50 per letter-sized page, or $2.00 per 11x17 page. More information on self-service printing and photocopying can be found at the Printing and Photocopying Services webpage.

Give Us Your Feedback

For all comments and questions about the Guide, please e-mail us:

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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