Library Resources

4/14/10 11:02:49 AM Boston Massachusetts Campus spring scenes and fun on Marsh Plaza and BU Beach. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky for Boston University Photography
Photo by Kalman Zabarsky for Boston University Photography

BU Library Resources 

BU’s Mugar Library contains a collection of several thousand books and journals on Asian Studies in Western languages, as well as a small specialized collection on Japanese art history donated by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, including materials in Japanese language.

The specialized research collections on East, Central, and Southeast Asian archaeology and related fields of the AsianARC Library (formerly ICEAACH, the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History) offer a unique resource to the Boston UniversitIMG_6320 Yining Xue in ICEAACH library, 2.21.13y community as well as the general public. Library holdings include over 10,000 books and journals, 12,000 photos and slides, and a collection of
several thousands of maps of Asia from the early 19th through late 20th centuries. The core of this collection is constituted by the comprehensive and authoritative personal research library of the eminent archaeologist and scholar of ancient China, Prof. Kwang-chih Chang 張光直 (1931-2001). Library holdings feature an extensive and up-to-date collection of book and journal titles in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Central Asia, and Southeast Asian archaeology, art history and ancient history, as well as important selections in the fields of anthropology, ethnography, literature, philosophy, geography, history of technology, and cultural heritage management and preservation. Key holdings include a full run of the renowned Japanese art journal Kokka 國華 (1889-  ), major collections of scarce Korean and Japanese archaeological reports, and Taiwan anthropology, archaeology, and art history books, among others. AsianARC is actively expanding its collections through acquisitions, donations, and exchanges with research institutes around the globe. An online catalogue is available through the main Boston University Libraries catalogue search page.

IMG_6237 Alison Cuneo, Zhengdong Guo in ICEAACH libraryThe Library is non-circulating but welcomes scholars, researchers, and the interested public to make use of its collections in the Center’s reading room. Photocopying and scanning facilities are available. The library is generally open to the public during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm), but to ensure that the library will be open, we suggest that you contact us by e-mail <> prior to your planned visit. The AsianARC Library is located on the fifth floor of 650 Beacon Street (exactly at the Kenmore Square “T” Station entrance) at the east end of the Boston University Charles River Campus.

The Central Asian and Islamic Rare Book Collection at BU’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center Library combines four of the world’s best private scholarly libraries that were created by renowned Western scholars of the region. Individually they include:

  1. Iran & Central Asia: The Library of Richard N. Frye. Ca. 6,500 books, 110 journal titles (3,500 volumes)
  2. Languages & Literatures of Central Asia: The Library of Karl H. Menges. Ca. 3,080 books, 50 journal titles (1,150 volumes), 5000 off-prints
  3. The Cultures of the Karakorum Highway: The Library of Karl Jettmar. Ca. 6,500 books, 118 journal titles (2,500 volumes), 3,500 off-prints
  4. The library of Professor Mohsin Mahdi

The Frye collection covers the countries of the Persian Empire from the Achaemenids to modern times. It is exceptionally strong in rare publications of the 19th and early 20th centuries covering the history, literature, religion, philosophy, and art and archaeology of Iran, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan from Achaemenid times to the 20th century, and also has important groups of publications on Armenia and Georgia. Within the library is contained an important collection of publications related to Zoroastrianism, mostly published in India in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The library includes publications in some two dozen different languages.

The Menges collection represents one of the most comprehensive research collections devoted primarily to the languages of Central Asia and neighboring Turkish-speaking areas. It is particularly strong in publications in Central Asian languages published in the countries of Central Asia in the first half of the 20th century, in addition to publications in Western and Slavic languages (as well as Chinese, Japanese and Korean). A significant number of the former cannot be found in any American academic library. A strong focus of the Menges collection is the interrelationship between the literatures and languages of the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia, always a focus of Menges’ work. The collection also contains a good group of rare books of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Jettmar collection is devoted to the cultures of the high mountain peoples of the Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Pamir Mountain areas, as well as adjacent areas of Eurasia. Its primary focus is on the archaeology and ethnography of the peoples of these regions, and is comprehensive in those subjects, with particularly strong holdings of scarce Russian monographs from the 1960s through 1980s. It contains significant concentrations of publications on the archaeology of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the peoples of Northern India. Of the three libraries, Jettmar’s covers the largest geographical area, reaching from the Western borders of Eurasia to Xinjiang in China and from Siberia to the Persian Gulf.

The library of Professor Mohsin Mahdi, James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic Emeritus at Harvard University, contains a large number of Islamic (mostly Arabic) texts and much secondary work on Islamic literature, philosophy, and civilization.

Although each library is significant and important on its own, the three libraries together—due to their complementary character and the very small amount of internal duplication—form a highly significant resource for the scholarly study of Central Asia and Iran. This amalgamated library of over 17,000 monographic volumes, and more than 200 complete periodical runs in over 8,500 volumes, as well as some 13,000 offprints, 2,500 slides and correspondence and manuscripts by the three scholars, rivals the holdings of virtually all major research institutions. Many of its volumes are currently unavailable anywhere else in the United States.

Visit the Islamic Book Collections website.

The Theology Library focuses its attention on Christianity and its relationship with religions throughout the world. The library subscribes to journals dealing with Asian Christianity and purchases monographs which support the school’s work in missions, inter-religious dialogue, and Christianity in Asian culture. Journals dealing with Asian studies include publications in Western languages, Chinese and Korean.

The Frederick S. Pardee Management Library provides research resources as well as a collection of books and journals in Asian business.

The collection, developed with the support of the Boston University Center for the
Humanities by Prof. Zhu Hong to aid teaching, consists of about 2000 volumes, and includes Chinese-English and monolingual Chinese dictionaries; modern
edited texts of the classics of Chinese literature; anthologies of 20th century writings; literary scholarship; Chinese scholarship on film history; and English translations of Chinese classics. A new grant from the Center for the Humanities  administered by Professor Catherine Yeh is helping to further broaden the scope of the collection.


The Geddes Language Center maintains a collection of about 300 video titles in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, most with subtitles. Approximately two-thirds are feature films, while the rest are documentaries and educational videos in Asian languages, history, music and cultural studies. The on-line catalog provides a short synopsis of the video and other details such as film length, director, and year produced. Videos may be viewed at the Center, either by individuals or groups.

Krasker Film/Video Services provides instructional support to Boston University faculty, staff, and current students. The films and videos owned by Boston University are listed in an on-line catalog at The catalog is searchable by title, director, keyword, subject or series heading; a description of each title is included. The collection includes over 380 documentaries and feature films on Asia.

BU students and faculty can access and borrow from vast combined collections of 19 libraries in Boston and New England through the Boston Library Consortium borrowing card program, and also obtain materials through interlibrary loan. By special arrangement, faculty and graduate students associated with BU’s School of Theology can obtain limited privileges through the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) Libraries Network.

Worldwide Asian Libraries 

Coming Soon.