We have rich collections of material in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Manchu and Mongolian including manuscripts, printed books, periodicals, sound recordings, maps, newspapers and archives.

Collection guides

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

The Story of Inabe no Suminawa: Master Craftsman of Hida

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Classic literature often brings us the m...

Beneath the glitter: Kinzan emaki, inside the gold mines of Sado

Monday, July 11, 2022

Amongst the many gilded books and manusc...

Sisters from the shadows - Lady Akikonomu

Monday, September 6, 2021

This occasional series of blog posts wil...

How to Digitise Scrolls: A Step-by-Step Guide from the Lotus Sutra Project

Monday, August 2, 2021

Jon Nicholls, Senior Imaging Technician, digitising a scroll on the Lotus Sutra Project. Lotus Sutra Manuscripts Digitisation Project The International Dunhuang Project (IDP) is an international collaborative project based at the British Library and with centres around the world. The...

More blog posts


International Dunhuang Project (IDP)

An international collaboration making manuscripts and items from along the Eastern Silk Roads available online.

Lotus Sutra Manuscripts Digitisation Project

We're conserving and digitising nearly 800 Lotus Sutra manuscripts in Chinese language

All projects

East Asian collections highlights

Chinese oracle bone

Between 1300 BC and 1050 BC

Library experts

Sara Chiesura

Lead Curator, Chinese Collections

Mélodie Doumy

Curator of Chinese Collections and IDP

Emma Harrison

Curator, Chinese Collections

Han-Lin Hsieh

Curator, Chinese collections

Yasuyo Ohtsuka

Curator, Japanese Collections

Hamish Todd

Head of East Asian Collections