Tsinghua University Library was established in 1912, just one year after the “Tsinghua Xue Tang” was founded. It was called “Tsinghua School Reading Room”at that time until renamed as “Tsinghua School Library” in 1916. The first-stage library building was completed in 1919. It was designed by an American architect, Henry Murphy. It has a total floor area of 2,114 square meters and is one of the earliest buildings on the campus. In 1928, the Tsinghua School became the National Tsinghua University. Between that time and 1935, the Tsinghua University Library developed rapidly. In 1931, the library building was expanded to 7,700 square meters which provided 700 seats. The collection increased to 300,000 volumes. Most of the schools and departments had their own branch libraries. Before the beginning of the Anti-Japanese War, the Library's collection numbered 360,000 volumes. From October 1935 to September 1936, the famous litterateur, Prof. ZHU Ziqing was the Director of Tsinghua University Library.
In 1938, after moving to Kunming, Tsinghua University merged with Peking University and Nankai University to become the Southwest Associated University. The Library shipped 23,000 volumes to the new university. During that period, 10,000 volumes, which were temporarily being stored in Chongqing, were damaged by the Japanese Army's bombing.
In 1946, the collection returned to the original campus in Beijing, but the Library was quite different. 175,000 volumes lost. After People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Tsinghua University Library entered a stage of stable development. After the nationwide high education restructuring in 1952, Tsinghua University became a polytechnical university. Between 1952 and 1958, the Library transferred 18,000 volumes to other universities. To support the University's mission of education and research, the Library adjusted and reformed the collections to focus on the acquisition of engineering materials. The collection of books and other bound volumes had grown to 1.35 million volumes by 1966.
During the Cultural Revolution, the budget of the Library was deeply cut. The Library stopped buying or subscribing to many important books and periodicals. Fortunately, with the help of faculty members, students, and librarians, most of the Library's collection survived that tragic period. Since 1985 Tsinghua University recovered a comprehensive university. The collection of the Library has grown rapidly. The new building of Tsinghua University Library, which was finished in September 1991, signaled a new stage in the Library's development. The construction was supported by the donation of Dr. Run Run Shaw and the appropriation of the State Education Commission. In 1994, the new building was named after Dr. Shaw. After the third-stage building of library was completed, the total floor area reached 27,820square meters. The three parts of the building followed the same architectural style. They are integrated into one piece and stay in harmony with other constructions at the central campus.
In the new century, the Tsinghua University Library is striving to be a research, digitized, open and modern university library, to keep pace with the university's progressing towards a world-class university. Up to now, Tsinghua university library system includes the university library, 7 subject branch libraries and more than 10 school or department reading rooms. In the past few years the library has expanded its collection very fast especially in the e-resources. The total physical collections have been over 5.03 million item/volumes, full-text e-journals in Chinese and foreign languages are over 89,000 and e-books are more than 8.56 million by end of 2016. In 1996, the Library introduced integrated library management system (INNOPAC) for cataloging and circulation management, which was the first one in China. In 2005, the library brought in MetaLib+SFX, the e-resources integration system, established Tsinghua Academic Information Resource Portal. Now the faculty and students of Tsinghua University are able to access the library's e-resources conveniently and safely at any time and from any places.
As all of the academic libraries in the world, Tsinghua university library is undergoing the transformation from a traditional library based on physical collections preservation and service to a modern library abundant in digital resources, with a rapid developing network service, and faces many challenges as well as great developing opportunity. We shall create management ideas and reform service models continuously to meet the needs from readers and go forward to the strategic target of a world-class university library.