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University of British Columbia: Asian Library

University of British Columbia

General Information

Facility: University of British Columbia Asian Library
Address: 1871 West Mall, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2
Phone: (604) 822-2427 or (604) 822-2023
FAX: (604) 822-0650
Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm
Reference hours:  10:00am-4:00pm (may be limited on weekdays)

For holiday closings and up-to-date hours, please see the Asian Library website.

About the Library:
Established in 1948 with the first Asian Studies course offered at the University of British Columbia, the Asian Library has expanded considerably through the years, including the Japanese rare books collection, and the Chinese rare books collection.

The original library was moved into the Asian Centre in 1981, at which time it was officially sanctioned as a UBC Library. As of 2012, the library housed approximately 630,000 volumes.

In 2010, the Asian Library acquired a memory databank to document the history of the library and preserve historical documents related to the library and its activities. The databank is split into four main categories: articles/publications, news room, audio-visual records, and historical materials and miscellaneous. More information can be found here.

For more information about the Japanese collection, please contact Shirin Eshghi at 604-822-0960 or by email.

Online Resources

A research guide developed by the University of British Columbia.

Summary of Collections

Collection size: as of January 2014 the Japanese collection contained more than 57,000 volumes, 1,800 series, and 3,900 items in other formats including maps.  The Asian Library's Japanese collection is primarily focused on history, language, literature, religious studies, and women's studies.

Notable Collections:

  • Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era: a collection of maps and guidebooks of the Tokugawa Period (circa 1600-1867), comprised of single-sheet maps, large-scale maps up to thirty square feet, ceramic plates, woodblock prints, and scroll maps.

  • Japanese government publications: a collection of Japanese government publications received since 1959 from the official publication blanket exchange between Canada and the National Diet Library. The University of British Columbia Library receives these publications instead of Library and Archives Canada.


Online catalog:


The University of British Columbia's digital repository, cIRcle is an open access initiative created by the UBC community. It is designed to showcase and preserve the university's intellectual work while keeping it freely available to anyone on the web. For more information, please read the "Getting Started with cIRcle" webpage.

The digital collection representing the digitized Tokugawa Era maps, most of which came from the original collection donated by George Beans in 1965. A Japanese language version of the collection's website is available here.

The University of British Columbia Libraries offer access to about a dozen databases pertaining to Japan and Japanese research, including JapanKnowledge Plus (in Japanese), Kokushi daijiten, Zasshi kiji sakuin shūsei, Asahi Kikuzo II Visual, Yomiuri Yomidasu Rekishikan, and more. Most of these databases are available only on campus.

How to Use the Facility

Library cards
The University of British Columbia library system requires a library card for use. A library card can be obtained onsite at the main library. Further directions for obtaining a library card, and its potential cost, can be found here.

Self-service photocopying and printing is available with a UBC Library photocopy/printing card, which can be obtained at a card machine at any of the branch libraries or circulation desks. Cards require a $1 refundable deposit.

The price of a photocopy or printed page is 7¢ for black and white, or 40¢ for color. A page is defined by the university as one side of a 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.
For up-to-date photocopying and printing costs and policies, please visit UBC's Photocopying page.

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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