The Library of the Western Belvedere (in Chinese: Xiguan
) at Fuzhou University is the first
library in China specialized in the humanities and social
sciences of the West.
The Library fulfils its mission through the systematic
acquisition of all major and representative works in their
original language, as well as, when available, in their
Chinese and English translations. It makes these works available
to educators, researchers, students as well as to interested
members of the public all over China.
The name of "Western
Belvedere" has been chosen in reference to China's first great library,
founded during the Eastern Han dynasty (25 to 220AD). This library was
situated in a multi-storied belvedere (guan)
on the east side of the imperial palace in Luoyang, the capital of China
in those times. Hence it was called "the Library of the Eastern
Belvedere (Dongguan)." By giving our
library the name of "Western Belvedere" , we not only indicate
that this is a library of the Western books, but moreover wish give
expression to our hope that it may function as a place where people in
China can have access to the sources of Western civilizations.
The Library of the Western Belvedere was
founded in 2001. It is situated in its own
library building on the campus of Fuzhou
University. During more than one year the
ancient library building has been restored and
transformed into a modern facility with humidity
controlled storage rooms, a large reading room,
a lecture room and up to date electronic
The Library was officially opened on October 25,
2003. At present, it has already more than ten
thousand volumes of Western and Chinese books.
Our aim is to develop these holdings so that
they may one day encompass all the important
written sources and reference materials of the
humanities and the social sciences of the West.
The founders of the Library of the Western
Belvedere are Professor Kristofer Schipper and
Dr. Bingling Yuan. Professor Schipper is
emeritus professor of Chinese Religions at the
Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris,
France and emeritus professor of Chinese History
at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.
His field of research is the history and
anthropology of Chinese religion, in particular
of Daoism. He has extensively published on the
subject, his most well-known work being The
Taoist Body (University of California Press,
Dr. Yuan has a PhD of the University of Leiden
and is specialized in the history of the Fujian
region and its overseas expansion. Her most
well-known publication is: Chinese Democracies –
A Study of the Kongsis of West Borneo
(1776-1884) published in 2000 by CNWS, Leiden.
Dr. Yuan is presently professor of Fujian
History and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Letters
at Fuzhou University.
Professor Schipper and Dr. Yuan have donated
their own books to the Library of the Western
Apart from receiving the active support of
Fuzhou University and the Government of Fujian
Province, the Library of the Western Belvedere
is subsidized by the Yimen Foundation, a
non-profit organization registered in the
Netherlands. The Yimen Foundation has received a
generous grant from Ministry of Education,
Culture and Science of the Netherlands. It has
also obtained gifts from individual benefactors.