The library, established when the museum was opened in 1889, specializes in the ancient art and archeology of East and Far Eastern Asia. Its collection of over 100,000 volumes includes books and revues in all European and Asian languages together with 1500 periodicals. These are indexed in the catalogue du Système universitaire de documentation (http://www.sudoc.abes.fr). As the museum was originally founded as a museum of the history of religions, the library has inherited a major collection of works relating to Oriental religions, in particular Buddhism.
In addition to European texts from the 17th and 18th centuries, the library possesses a number of special collections, including a series of 700 illustrated Japanese books from the Edo period, over 2000 Tibetan works (including Alexandra David-Neel’s library), the Arnold Vissière collection of Qing dynasty Chinese maps, Urdu texts donated by Garcin de Tassy, fragments of Uigur manuscripts, and the papers of orientalists such as A. Barth, E. Chavannes, R. Ghirshman, P. Pelliot etc.