The East Asia Department of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) is in charge of the East, Southeast and Central Asia collection. Within the federal system of German libraries, the collection was partly financed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and its Special Research Collection Programme from 1951 to 2015. Collection work continues in the context of the DFG funded project “Specialised Information Service Asia” (funded since 2016).
The collection of the East Asia Department of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK has a history dating back to the East Asia collection of the former Prussian State Library with acquisitions from China dating from the second half of the 17th century. Since 1951 it has been possible to build up one of the largest East Asian collections in Europe thanks to the generous support of the DFG. Unfortunately, a large part of the original collection, more than 50.000 volumes and booklets, was moved during World War II, and was not returned. A substantial part is considered to be lost, but about 20.000 volumes and booklets may now be found in the Biblioteka Jagiellonska in Krakow, Poland.
The collection covers publications from all countries of East and Southeast Asia. This includes in Central and East Asia: People’s Republic of China (including Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Hong Kong, Macao), Republic of China (Taiwan), Mongolia, Japan, North Korea and South Korea and in Southeast Asia: Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, East-Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
The collection is considered to be especially strong in the humanities and social sciences. In the fields of technology, medicine, economic and agriculture science, for which the German National Libraries of Science and Technology, Economics and Medicine (TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology in Hannover, ZB Med – Information Centre for Life Sciences in Köln, ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Kiel) are responsible, and also for the natural sciences only bibliographies and publications referring to their local history are collected. However, for specific cultural and scientific developments (e.g. acupuncture) the relevant literature is collected also. Additionally, monographs in East Asian languages are acquired for the economics and agriculture sciences, as long as there is a relation to the social sciences.