China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper will analyze patterns of book donations to school libraries in the Ming and Qing (1368-1911). Over the past two years I have used LoGaRT, a Chinese text mining and processing software created by the Max Planck Institute for History of Science, to construct a geo-tagged database of 31,444 books held in 600 local school libraries from the mid-1200s to the early 1900s. After doing computer-assisted record gathering, I manually refined and checked book accession dates, donor’s names, and related information. The large number of records makes it possible to show what types of people donated, what books they selected, and in some cases, how much they spent and where they acquired the books. Donors often gave books that were not aimed at preparing for the civil service examinations, but instead addressed a broader range of topics, such as medicine, law, disaster management, etc. Big data also makes it possible to identify broad changes over time and space, and serves as a foundation for well-supported arguments on the circulation of books and knowledge in the Ming and Qing.