Newsletter No. 57 (January 2011)

Visits to Hong Kong and Taiwan Libraries, October 2010

Bick-har Yeung1

East Asian Collection
The University of Melbourne


I visited the University of Hong Kong Libraries (HKUL), National Taiwan University Library (NTUL) and the National Taiwan Normal University Library (NTNUL) during my vacation in Hong Kong and Taiwan in October 2010. The focus of my visits was to explore the Taiwan Studies collections and at the same time to learn more about the use of students’ space in these libraries.

I had visited these libraries before but it was one or two decades ago. My previous visits were mainly aimed at sharing experiences with colleagues in CJK automation and I seldom had opportunities to look at their collections.

I visited the Fung Ping Shan Library (FPSL) on 12th October 2010. The FPSL at the University of Hong Kong Libraries holds the best Chinese Collection outside China. The majority of the collection is in Chinese. Other major collections of East Asian language materials are in Japanese and Korean. I was hosted by Dr. Yiu Chuen Wan, Main Library Service Team Leader, Fung Ping Shan Librarian, and Ms Angela Ko, Deputy Fung Ping Shan Librarian. I had an enjoyable meeting with Dr. Wan and Ms Ko, followed by a library tour led by Ms Ko.

The Fung Ping Shan Library dates back to the 1930s. In the 1960s it was merged into the main library. Currently it maintains a separate physical identity but the services and library processes have been centralised.  The FPSL holds one million volumes and has an annual budget of HK$2m+ for books and journals. E-resources come from the library’s central fund. Annual new additions comprise 30,000 titles, of which 60% plus are purchased titles.

The FPSL adopted the Library of Congress Classification in 2002 and the majority of the collection has been reclassified. The FPSL occupies two floors of the library building. Even though about 60 percent of the collection is in off campus storage, the FPSL I saw still reached a 110 percent storage capacity. The Taiwan Research Collection was established in 2002 and is a sizeable collection comprising materials in arts and humanities and Taiwan government publications. Chinese books about Hong Kong are kept in the Hung On –To Memorial Library (Hong Kong Collection), and Chinese rare books are housed in the Rare Books Collection.

In terms of student space, PCs are available at the Knowledge Navigation Center in the ground floor of the main Library. There is a 24X7 Student Learning Center located on the Ground floor in the Old Wing. I was amazed to see that the HKUL has adopted a colour zone system for its “Food and Drink Policy”. The red color zone indicates no eating, silence and water only. The yellow zone also indicates no eating and silence but drinks are allowed. The green zone allows low voices, food and drinks.

I visited the National Taiwan University Library on 26 October 2010. The National Taiwan University is ranked number one among universities in Taiwan. It occupies the site of Taihoku Imperial University which was established in 1928 under the Japanese occupation. The University Library inherited the Taihouku Imperial University Library collection when the Government of the Republic of China took over Taiwan in the late 40s.    I had visited the NTU old library in 1994 for the site visit of the Australian National CJK Project, but the NTUL library I visited then has now become the University Archives. The library building is located at the end the Royal Palm Boulevard. It is a grand and still fairly new building, opened in 1998, and designed to retain the spirit of the old library’s Japanese architecture such as the arched windows. I was hosted by Min-hui Tung, Head of the Reference & Extension Services Department, and colleagues in her team Ms Wei-han Chen and Ms Cui-miao Hung. The NTUL has holdings of more than three million volumes and is the largest academic library in Taiwan.  The library is a depository library for Taiwan government publications. I toured the reference collection, periodical collection, the multimedia Learning Center, the NTU Collected Work Room (the published works of NTU alumni and faculty) and the Learning Commons.  What struck me most during my visit were the world class physical learning environment, services and facilities that the NTUL provides to its users, and also the valuable Taiwanese historical research collections. Many of the resources in these collections were inherited from the Taihouku Imperial University. They comprise the Tan-Hisn Tang An 淡新檔案, 1776-1895, the Yasusada Tashiro Collection 田代文庫, the Manuscripts of Knori Ino 伊能嘉矩手稿, the V.S. de Bausset Collection 狄寶賽文庫, Rubbings of Cultural Relic 臺灣古碑拓本, Books of Lyrics from Taiwanese Opera 歌仔冊. The above-mentioned collections are digitalised and they are available for free access via the following link: http://dtrap.lib.ntu.edu.tw/DTRAP/index.htm. The NTUL together with the Academia Sinica Library and the Taiwan Branch of the National Central Library are the three major libraries in Taiwan holding the best Taiwan Studies research collections in the world.

The Learning Commons is located in the basement of the library. It offers students a space for individual learning, group discussion and conference meetings. The lounge area is furnished with comfortable furniture for students to relax and study.

It’s a pity that I was not able to visit the NTUL’s Taiwanese Indigenous Peoples Resources Center due to limited time. I was told that this Center has collected a wide range of resources relating to the Taiwanese indigenous People. This would be a good reason to visit the NTU Library again on my next trip to Taiwan.

I visited the National Taiwan Normal University Library on the 27th of October. Being a graduate of the National Taiwan Normal University, the university itself is not new to me, but I felt a total stranger in the library, which is a semi-circular building built in the 1980s opposite the site of the old library building. The old library, a Gothic style building built in 1949 where I used to study in my student days, was demolished; only the main entrance was preserved.

The National Taiwan Normal University has holdings of 1.5 m.  I was hosted by Ms Ming-jane Chen, Head of the Reference & Extension Service Department.  Ms Chen gave me a tour of the collection stacks, reference collection, periodical collection, multi-media collection, NTNU archives and the rare book collections. The NTNUL stacks are arranged by subject. Chinese books and English books are not intershelved, but Chinese book shelves and English book shelves are beside each other arranged according to subject.  I was impressed by the Gernot Prunner Private Collection held by the NTNUL, a special collection comprising more than 18,000 volumes of materials on cultural studies in the areas of religion, art and architecture, archaeology and language, and ethnic minorities throughout Asia.

After spending a few days visiting university libraries, I spent another afternoon visiting the The National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall 國立國父紀念館 in Taipei where the Dr. Sun-Yat-sen Library is located.

Lastly I would like to express my sincere thanks to colleague librarians at the FPSL, NTUL and NTNUL for their time and effort in hosting my visit. The knowledge and experience I shared and learnt from them has been remarkable.

Photos taken by the author during the library visits:

Caption: The main entrance of the University of Hong Kong Library.

Caption: The entrance of the Fung Ping Shan Library.

Caption: A poster indicating the HKU Main Library food and drink policy.

Caption: The National Taiwan University Library.

Caption: The Learning Commons at the National Taiwan University Library

Caption: The site of the old National Taiwan Normal University Library. The old  building was demolished but the main entrance is preserved.

Caption: The National Taiwan Normal University Library.


1. I would like to thanks Dr. Aline Scott-Maxwell who had kindly polished my report.


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