Rare Book Collection

The PolyU Library has established a Rare Book Collection to preserve the valuable and rare books written in Chinese or western languages. The items in the collection are mostly irreplaceable, rare, or unique titles that have significant value for research. 

Western Rare Book Collection

It mainly contains books written in western languages and published before 1900 about China and East Asia. Highlights of the collection include:

  • "An historical and geographical description of Formosa" by George Psalmanazar (1704);
  • "An historical, geographical and philosophical view of the Chinese empire: comprehending a description of the fifteen provinces of China ..." by William Winterbotham (1796);
  • "Memoirs of ****: Commonly Known by the Name of George Psalmanazar, a Reputed Native of Formosa" by George Psalmanazar (1764);
  • " Peeps Into China: Or, The Missionary's Children " by E. C. Phillips (1882);
  • "Wood finishing, comprising staining, varnishing, and polishing" by Paul N Hasluck (1897); and
  • "Catalogue of Chinese matrices and printing-types founded in the Netherlands" by J. J. Hoffmann (1876).

Chinese Rare Book Collection

It consists of 660 titles spread across more than 5,305 volumes, with the following major categories:

  • Thread bound books published in the Late Qing Dynasty:
    • 《通志》宋 鄭樵漁撰 (1859);
    • 《制義叢話》(1859); and
    • 《汗簡箋正》 (1889) 郭忠恕撰;鄭珍箋正.
  • Distinguished titles of Chinese books, journals, and newspapers about Hong Kong and China published before 1949:
    • 《大眾周報》- a set of newspaper published during Japanese occupation of Hong Kong;
    • 《文友》- a set of magazines published in 1943;
    • 《中國畫報》- a set of magazines published in 1925;
    • 《聯華畫報》- a set of magazines published in the 1930s; and
    • 《中國營造學社彙刊》a set of magazines published in the 1940s.

For security and preservation reasons, all physical rare books are kept in the Rare Book Room located on the 1/F of the Library. Access to these materials is by appointment only. Please refer to “Access and Use” for details.

Among the Rare Book Collection, the Library has digitised over 200 works on China and East Asia to facilitate the full-text access. The digitised rare books are accessible to scholars and all those interested in Chinese and East Asian cultures and histories. Explore the digital collection here.

Records and information of items kept in the Rare Book Collection are available on Library homepage via OneSearch.

Access and Use


  • PolyU/CPCE staff and students enrolled on programmes leading to PolyU awards


  • Eligible users may fill in the Rare Book Appointment Request Form to request for onsite use of a maximum of five rare book titles at any one time.
  • A minimum pre-booking period of one working day is required.
  • The Library will contact the requester by email or phone to confirm the date and time requested.

Rare Book Room

  • The Rare Book Room is open by appointment only Mon-Fri, 8:45 AM – 5 PM, excluding public holidays.
  • Users with their appointment confirmed by the Library will be required to sign the “Guidelines on Using Rare Books in the Rare Book Room” and leave their personal belongings in the locker provided at the Loan & Return Counter on P/F of the Library before entering the Room.  They may bring wallet, pencil, paper, mobile phone and laptop computer into the Room.
  • Other than consulting rare books, no other activities should be engaged in the Rare Book Room.
  • Users should not invite other person(s) to enter or stay in the Rare Book Room.
  • No food or drinks (including water) is allowed in the Rare Book Room.
  • Each consultation session lasts for 2.5 hours.  Renewal could be performed once, subject to the availability of the rare book titles and the Rare book Room, and if the next session does not extend beyond 5 PM.

Using Rare Books

  • Use of rare books is for teaching, learning, and research purposes only.
  • All rare books must be handled with great care. Do not place an open book face down.  Do not write on top of a book, or add or erase any marks on it.
  • Only pencils can be used when taking personal notes. The use of pens is not permitted.
  • Rare books should only be consulted inside Rare Book Room. Photocopying or scanning of rare books is strictly prohibited. Users should ensure that they comply with Copyright Ordinance (Cap 528).

Overdue Fines, Repair/Replacement

  • Rare books consulted must be returned to the Loan & Return Counter by the due time. There is an overdue fines at $10 per hour.
  • If any rare books are lost or damaged while in the possession of a user, the user is held responsible and will be required to pay the full cost for repairing or replacement.

The Library reserves the right to terminate any sessions scheduled and/or reject requests for use of rare books in case of non-compliance with the above policies.