A catalogue of the Chinese rare books held in Special Collections at the University of Auckland has been launched locally following its release earlier this year at an international conference in Toronto.
新西蘭奥克蘭大學中文古籍目錄, Chinese rare and pre-modern books at the University of Auckland describes 231 rare books and some archival material housed in Special Collections in the General Library. It was compiled by Metadata Assistant Librarian Jian Downing and Haiqing Lin, the Library’s former Asian Languages Librarian, and features book images scanned by Digital Initiatives Librarian John Laurie.
The catalogue is part of the series Hai wai Zhong wen gu ji zong mu, 海外中文古籍總目, published by Beijing-based Zhonghua Book Company. The publishers aim to create comprehensive catalogues of Chinese rare book collections held outside China. To date, this Library and 15 others in the United States and Canada have joined the project and the publishers are in talks with other libraries internationally.
Special Collections Manager Stephen Innes said the catalogue would help increase awareness of these Imperial-era books among the research community both within the University and internationally. “It is great that these works are receiving the recognition they deserve – it is also a tribute to the donors, academics and librarians responsible for their acquisition over the decades”, Stephen said. The printed catalogue supplements the Library’s online catalogue records.
These texts reflect the social and intellectual life of pre-modern China and are a valuable resource for studying Chinese literature, culture, traditions and history. Published between the late Ming dynasty and the end of the Qing dynasty (early 17th century-1911), the collection includes travelogues, plays, poetry, painting manuals and this exquisitely coloured pictorial work on agriculture and sericulture (second image).
To coincide with the 14 September launch, some of these treasures are featured in the display 特藏部中文古籍 Chinese rarities in Special Collections. Curated by Jian Downing and Special Collections Assistant Librarian Jo Birks, the display runs until 9 October outside the Reading Room, General Library Level G.