Rare Chinese collection now available to the world

25 October 2021

In 1950, the Australian National University acquired the collection of works in Chinese of eminent scholar and educator Xu Dishan 许地山

The collection contains many rare editions and suspected orphaned sacred books on Buddhism, Taoism and other missionary publications. It even includes titles published as early as 1411!

A new website has been created to showcase, and provide better access to, the Xu Dishan collection. The website will provide greater access to this important collection to researchers worldwide.

The collection has been housed in the Menzies Library Rare Books Room for many years, but the items are fragile and as such, have not been easily accessible.

Now, thanks to the hard work by the ANU Digitisation Team, these items have all been carefully digitised and made available online. This means the information in these texts is available to everyone, and the fragile materials are able to be preserved to prevent further degradation.

The new website is being launched today to mark Open Access Week. This week celebrates making knowledge open and accessible to all.

The Xu Dishan collection is a wonderful example of the benefits of making information open access, as researchers worldwide continue to request access to Xu Dishan’s studies, scholarship and literature. The international interest stems from the rarity of items, in particular the items on Daoism and Buddhism, many of which did not survive in China.

These materials add to the rich collection of Asia Pacific materials available through the ANU Library.

Find out more about the Xu Dishan collection on the new website

The website was launched on Monday 25 October - a video of the launch is available on the ANU Library YouTube channel