Le fonds chinois 里昂圖書館中文部

History of the Chinese Collection

In France, it is unusual to find a large Chinese collection in a municipal library. But Lyon is an exception, due to its links with the Far East, and more particularly with China, maintained over several centuries.

The history of the Chinese Collection in the Lyon Municipal Library starts in 1977 with the transfer, at the initiative of Danielle Li and Jacques Guillermaz, of the collections of the Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon (1921-1946), passed to the brand new library at Part-Dieu by the Association universitaire franco-chinoise (i.e. Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon). When this organisation is disolved in 1980, it gives its collections (always curated by the municipal library) to the University of Lyon 3-Jean Moulin.

Since that time, the Chinese Collection has continued to grow.

Comprising today over 60,000 documents, including around one thousand titles of journals and a hundred linear metres of archives, it is a major Chinese collection, which has been processed and is now accessible to all, sinologists or not. Nine-tenths of the documents in this collection are in Chinese.

Jacques Guillermaz (1911-1998), officer, diplomat and sinologist specialising in contemporary China, bequeathed his personal Chinese library, comprising books and journals dealing also with the republican period and the Cultural Revolution.

Michelle Loi (1926-2002), professor and translator, donated her entire private collection containing a particularly large number of documents about Lu Xun (1881-1936) and Chinese literature after the movement of 4 May 1919.

In 1999, the Jesuit Fontaines library of Chantilly, containing over 12,000 Chinese documents, was transferred to Lyon Municipal Library. It is principally in the area of religion and that of the Christian presence in China in the 19th and 20th centuries that this collection is greatest. It also includes the library of André d’Hormon (1881-1965), one of the founders of the Franco-Chinese University of Beijing (1920-1950), expelled from China in 1955.

In 2003, Nicole Soymié donated the personal library of her husband, Michel Soymié (1924-2002), containing many works about Dunhuang, the Chinese traditions, religions and philosophy.

Li Zhihua (1915-2015), a former student at the Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon, teacher and translator, donated his library and part of his archives to the Chinese Collection.

Danielle Li (1927-2018), teacher, daughter of a student of the IFCL had an important part in the creation of the Chinese Collection of Lyon Municipal Library, to which she gave her personal archives and library, also in 2011.

In 2019, Jacques Pimpaneau (1934-2021), professor emeritus at INALCO, has offered us his personal library. Reflecting his research and his tireless curiosity, it is rich in the fields of ethnography, literature and Chinese performing arts. Some of his documentary films are also available.

Finally, the Chinese Collection regularly grows by purchases from bookstalls and bookshops, and by reciprocal donations of new works with its Chinese partners.

To receive the best possible advice and service, readers are advised to make the earliest possible appointment with the Chinese Collection.

Periodicals from the Chinese Collection and archives from the Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon are available by prior appointment only.