UPDATE DECEMBER 2016
We regret to announce that the RAS Library collection is temporarily unavailable to RAS Members and the public until further notice. Thank you for your patience.
THE RAS LIBRARY was founded in 1868 by with the purchase of Alexander Wylie’s collection of 718 books on “various subjects related to China”. Over the next 70 years it grew to become one of the most complete collections of English Language books on Asia in the world.
By 1937 it contained over 30,000 books and was housed on the third floor of the RAS building on Museum Road near the Bund (now the Rockbund Art Museum on Huqiu Road).
During the late 1930s with thousands of refugees flooding into Shanghai, it was a tranquil haven for the residents of the International Settlement. It was recorded that over 6000 people would visit the library each month.
The RAS library survived the Japanese occupation and the Civil War, but was forced to close its doors in 1951. Most of its original collection now resides at the Xujiahui Library (The Bibliotheca Zi-ka-wei).
In 2007, THE RAS LIBRARY was resurrected by a group of enthusiasts, and as part of that process we are starting to rebuild the RAS Library. Like the original RAS Library, our focus is on material related to China.
The Library currently holds over 3,000 books and archival material, many of which are old and not available elsewhere. Approximately 10% of our collection was published prior to 1945; our oldest book was published in 1857.
We are the only private English Language library in Shanghai open to the public. RAS members can borrow up to two books at a time. Anyone may view the library’s collection or use the space for studying. (wifi available for free). We accept donations of books and DVDs, and regularly organise book sales.
WE ARE THE ONLY PRIVATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LIBRARY IN SHANGHAI OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
RAS MEMBERS CAN BORROW UP TO TWO BOOKS AT A TIME FOR ONE MONTH.
ANYONE MAY VIEW THE LIBRARY’S COLLECTION OR USE THE SPACE FOR STUDYING.