RAS Library

The RAS Library & Reading Room near the West Bund houses a rich collection of more than 4,000 books related to Asia, including many old and rare volumes.


Members and Friends of RAS are welcome to use the facility during opening hours.


Questions about the library or its collection can be directed to the RAS Librarian (librarian@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn


Follow the RAS Library on Twitter at @RASLibrarySH.


Harmony Bay Complex, 888 Dong'an Lu  尚海湾展示中心, 东安路888号

Near Longhua Middle Road Station 龙华中路站 (Lines 7 & 12), Exit 5



Monday: 2 PM to 6 PM

Wednesday: 1 PM to 5 PM

Friday: 9:30 AM to 1 PM

Sunday: 1 PM to 5 PM


Library sign





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).

We have been rebuilding our collection since our re-establishment in Shanghai in 2007. Like the original RAS Library, our focus is on material related to China. We have over 4,000 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 accept donations of books and DVDS and other archival material.


Outside library