The formation of the British Library’s Vietnamese collection

(23 August 2016) This two-part illustrated blog by Sud Chonchirdsin, Curator for Vietnamese, discusses the great lengths to which the British Library went in order to acquire publications from war-torn and politically-divided Vietnam.

The Vietnamese collection was originally held in the British Museum’s Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts. Unlike the large numbers of publications in Burmese and Malay from former British colonies in Southeast Asia, up to the 1950s the Vietnamese collection was very small. The Cold War and scarcity of information from remote communist-bloc countries compounded the difficulties in acquiring materials in both vernacular languages and English, and on 13 December 1960, H.A. Arnold from the State Paper Room wrote to Kubon & Sagner, a book supplier in Munich, Germany to see whether it would be able to supply materials from Mongolia, U.S.S.R., North Korea and North Vietnam for the Library.  The story is a fascinating one.

Part 1 with a focus on North Vietnam is here.

The second part of this blog concentrates on publications from South Vietnam.

Both parts are profusely illustrated.