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University of Durham Library

Institution Details

University of Durham Library

Location in the UK


Description of Collections


Durham University Library aims to acquire material on Asia to support teaching and research at the University of Durham. The collection contains material on all parts of Asia, but the main concentration of resources and focus of library acquisitions is East Asia and the Near & Middle East and North Africa

The Asian collections of the University Library have a book-stock of c.130,000 volumes and 2500 periodical runs, of which 900 are current. There is a large collection of microforms and archives. Newspapers from the Middle East, Far East and Central Asia are held, in hard copy and microfilm, in English and local languages. The main strengths of the collections are in East Asian Studies and in Middle Eastern Studies, though material is held on all parts of Asia. The library holds large collections of material in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew and other languages.

History & development

The Oriental Section of the University Library was founded in 1950 and developed separately from the Main Library until 1975, when a joint catalogue was adopted. The Oriental section was closed in 1987 and its holdings were transferred to the Main Library. The material in the Oriental Library was classified in the Library of Congress classification scheme and this has continued to be the case, giving the Oriental Collections a separate identity within the Main Library. In 1994 the contents of the Middle East Documentation Unit, previously held in the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, were also transferred to the Main Library.

User focus

The main functions of the Asian collections of Durham University Library are to support study, teaching and research at the University of Durham. The collections of the library are also available to support researchers from the wider academic community outside Durham, whose studies would benefit from use of the collections

Collections held in University of Durham Library

Subjects and Material Types


Central Asia and the Caucasus, East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia.


Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Djibouti, East Timor, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, The Philippines, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

Languages of material

Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Modern (1453-), Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Kara-Kalpak, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Pali, Persian, Russian, Sanskrit, Tajik, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928), Turkmen, Uighur, Urdu, Uzbek.


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Communication and media, Development, Economics, Education, Environmental sciences, Geography, History, Human rights, Industries, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Material types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Audio materials (includes cassettes & CDs), Books, Manuscripts, Maps (includes all types of cartographic material), Newspapers (includes microfilm editions), Official publications, Public records, Serials, Theses, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has risen.

Annual intake

c.3300 volumes, by purchase and donation

Content date range

1950 to present

Interlibrary loan code


Interlibrary loan procedure

Durham lends its Asian Studies material on the same basis as other material.

Co-operative agreements

Under both the MELCOM and SCOLMA schemes the library has accepted responsibility for collecting publications from and about the Sudan.

Collection policy

Collection policies exist for Chinese studies material and for the Middle East Documentation Unit. they can be consulted on application to the library.

Retention policy

Material may be considered for disposal or for relegation to a secondary sequence. This would normally be material for which there is no apparent demand.

Catalogue Information


The OPAC contains entries for all Asian monograph acquisitions from 1990 onwards, whether in western or Asian languages. It contains entries for most serials and for a high proportion of the pre-1990 material. Manual catalogues must still be consulted for some of the older material - the Oriental Draft catalogue contains records for material acquired from 1950-1975 and the Author Catalogue contains records for 1975-1990. These two manual catalogues are available on Level 2 of the Main Library. The material recorded only in the manual catalogues is gradually being added to the OPAC.

Catalogue transliteration

Pinyin (Chinese), Modified Hepburn (Japanese), All others: Library of Congress standards of transliteration.

Catalogue scripts

Accessions in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew have script as well as transliterated entries in the OPAC.

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