Brief overviews of the Library’s Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, and Asian American Pacific Islander collections are available in the research guide Asian Collections at the Library of Congress: An Overview.
From its beginnings with an 1866 deposit of Malay manuscripts and early printed books by the Smithsonian Institute, the Asian collections housed at the Library of Congress have grown to more than 4 million physical items, representing one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian-language materials in the world. Available by request, both online and in-person at the Asian Reading Room, the collections include most subject fields, covering a geographic area ranging from the South Asian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Korea as well as the Asian diaspora. Complementing these collections are important materials related to Asian countries and languages in other areas of the Library. These include legal materials, films, manuscripts, maps, music, ethnographic recordings and photographs maintained in other reading rooms. In addition, extensive Western language materials on Asia are part of the Library's General Collection and accessible through the Main Reading Room.
The Library’s Asian collections also include a growing body of electronic resources. While many of these resources can be accessed from anywhere, hundreds of Asian studies subscription databases and in-copyright digitized resources are only accessible in the Asian Reading Room and on the Library of Congress campus. Users not able to visit in-person can explore the Library's growing digital collections, curated web archives, and freely available online resources on Asian studies through the Asian Reading Room website.