The History and Evolution of the NPM Library
After the National Palace Museum’s migration to Taiwan, it was temporarily located in the Wufeng district of Taichung, before being officially reestablished in Waishuanghsi in Taipei in 1965. Two sections formed in that year, one responsible for antiquities, and the other for painting and calligraphy. The books, manuscripts, and other written documents that arrived in Taiwan were placed under the oversight of the Painting and Calligraphy Section, which in 1966 established a reading room as well as stacks for housing rare books. The section also began to collect books and periodicals pertaining to the arts, literature, and history in Chinese and other foreign languages, in order to give museum staffers opportunities to deepen their knowledge, and to create an atmosphere conducive to academic research.
In 1968, the “Ad Hoc Organizational Regulations” were revised and the sections reformed as departments. The formerly staff-only reading room was enlarged and relocated to right side of the first floor of the museum’s main building, where it was formally designated as the National Palace Museum Library and placed under the supervision of the Department of Rare Books and Historical Documents. Open to academics of all fields as well as university students above the age of twenty majoring in literature or history, the library provided access to rare editions, antique books and manuscripts, and official documents from the Qing dynasty. Later, in 1970, the library moved to a larger space on the first floor of the west wing in the main building, where it continued to expand its collection of scholarly books and periodicals for public access.
In 1984, construction of the NPM’s Administration Building was completed, and in order to make more space for library collections, the NPM library relocated to the first and second floors of the south side of the Administration Building, where its facilities and storage occupied approximately 1,000 square meters of floor space. At this time, in addition to expanding its collection and acquiring new equipment, the library lowered the minimum age of entry to eighteen.
In 1996, in response to the constant growth of its collection and in order to enrich the services available to patrons, the NPM Library relocated once more, this time to the newly-completed Library Building, which has nearly 15,000 square meters of floor space. The reading rooms occupied the second through fourth floors of the Library Building, with a combined area of over 5,700 square meters; the library initially planned 300 reading desks, a number that was later reduced to 190 in order to provide room for more bookshelves. The NPM Library was given a new formal designation in Chinese that translates to “The Hall of Books and Documents.” This new name highlighted the library’s unique role in providing resources for research and textual criticism. In the same year the library added a rare books reading room, meeting rooms with audiovisual equipment, and study carrels. Measures were also taken to actively increase the library’s digital resources and to lower the age of entry to sixteen. These changes brought the NPM Library more and more in line with the ideals steering the development of modern-day libraries.
The NPM Library closed temporarily in mid-October of 2020 in order to take part in improvements made to the museum’s exhibition and storage spaces under the aegis of the “The New NPM Project.” During the library’s temporary closure, its core collection, rare and precious books and documents, furniture, and equipment were moved to the NPM’s south side Arts and Culture Park, which is located on the former campus of the National Defense Medical Center. After months of hard work, on January 26th of 2021, the NPM Library reopened to colleagues and researchers in its new, fully-renovated home in the Arts and Culture Park. The new facility’s reading rooms cover an area of nearly 1,500 square meters (to expand to 2,400 square meters after three years) and currently provide fifty-three reading desks.
In February of 2021, “Amendments to the Departmental Regulations of the National Palace Museum” were issued. In order to consolidate the functions of the museum’s administrative units, the newly-amended regulations stipulated that the responsibility for providing reader services for rare and ancient books and documents would be transferred to the newly-merged Department of Calligraphy, Painting, Rare Books and Documents. In order to reflect the simplification of its services, the library’s Chinese name reverted from “The Hall of Books and Documents” to “The NPM Library,” and its operation was placed under the supervision of the NPM’s General Planning Department.
The Arts and Culture Park provides a pristine and tranquil environment. Cypress and banyan trees that have long grown on the campus, along with the countless birds that make their homes there, create the sense of a thriving ecosystem. In its lush, green surroundings filled with the thrum of natural life, the NPM Library will continue to develop in its unique role as a special library devoted to the arts, literature, and history—all in order to provide the highest quality service to museum staffers, scholarly specialists, and the reading public at large.
Last updated on: 2021-08-31