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

Asia and Africa

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 free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions 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

Introducing the Lotus Sutra Project

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Conserving and digitising the Stein Coll...

Happy Chinese New Year: Year of the Dog!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Puppy. From Seihō ippinshū by Takeuchi S...

Introducing Doctoral Students to the Asian and African Collections at the British Library

Friday, February 9, 2018

Curators of the Asian and African Collections recently welcomed 45 eager doctoral students to a training day at the British Library. The session, for students in the first year of their PhDs, provided an introduction to the research materials on...

The script of the Naxi, their religious literature and early translation attempts

Monday, January 8, 2018

This week’s guest blog post is by Dr Duncan Poupard, Assistant Professor (Translation) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Naxiologist. He sheds light on some of the most extraordinary, mysterious and visually interesting manuscripts we hold in the...

More blog posts


Cataloguing Chinese propaganda posters

Funded by the British Inter-University China Centre

Digitising Chinese oracle bones

We worked with partners in China to digitise more than 480 Chinese 'oracle bones'

All projects

Related events

China Focus


Highlighting our collection from China

View all events

Library experts

Hamish Todd

Head of East Asian Collections

Sara Chiesura

Lead Curator, Chinese Collections

Emma Goodliffe

Curator, Chinese Collections

Yasuyo Ohtsuka

Curator, Japanese Collections

Follow BL Asian and African


Peake in China: Memoirs of Ernest Cromwell Peake

Peake in China: Memoirs of Ernest Cromwell Peake

Peake's memoirs provide a fascinating account of a Westerner in China at the turn of the last century.

Cat and butterfly greetings card

Cat and butterfly greetings card

A painting from an album in the style of the Korean artist Chong Son. 17 x 12.5cm blank card.

Sutra of the Ten Kings

Sutra of the ten kings: fine art print

This fine art print of a detail from the Sutra of the ten kings is available framed or unframed in a number of sizes on paper, canvas or perspex.