Skip to Main Content

Contemplative Studies

Library Resource and web links for Contemplative Studies

Tibetan Collection at UVa

The Tibetan Collection
at the
University of Virginia

The Tibetan Collection at the University of Virginia is one of the most complete collections in the world. The collection serves to support a world-renowned teaching and research program in Tibetan Buddhism in the Religious Studies Department at the masters and doctoral level. The program involves three main faculty, several lecturers, visiting scholars, and about two dozen graduate students.

The core of the research collection consists of about 3,300 pecha volumes and 4600 books containing about 25,000 titles of texts. Since the late 1960s, these and other Tibetan materials have been systematically acquired, identified, marked, shelved, and circulated to Tibetan scholars. The pecha represent about 40% of the Tibetan collection. They are in the format of single sheets, block-printed on both sides of various qualities of paper, some bound, but most unbound. Another 40% are relatively uniform-size reprints of these pecha, bound as codexes. The remaining 20% are in Western book format. The collection currently resides on the Alderman Library second floor. In addition there are a large number of secondary materials on Tibet in the Alderman stacks. Also in the periodicals section of the Asian Studies Room (2rd floor) there are current issues of several Tibetan journals, while bound earlier issues are in the stacks.

Digital copies of the pecha have been acquired from the Tibetan Resource Center during the early years of the 21st century. These digital copies have been purchased through 7 annual harddrives, with at least one more to come.  UVa researchers have online access to these digital full-text pecha of a total of 2,051 works containting 7,117 volumes. Most of the online digital copies duplicate what we have in print; with the addition of some significant works which are not available in print format.

The Asian Studies Room provides several reference tools to aid in the identification of texts and other information. These tools consist of dictionaries, encyclopedias, guides, catalogs, bibliographies, tables of contents (dkar chags), and other search and reference tools. The Room is on the second floor of Alderman Library

Most of the titles of the Tibetan pecha volumes and other materials are accessible in VIRGO, the University of Virginia's online catalog system. All of these materials may be searched, identified, and circulated to Tibetan scholars for their research.

Most of the materials in the Tibetan collection are in the Tibetan language and script. Since nearly all of it was published in India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, with extremely small press runs, this material is virtually irreplaceable, out of print, and unique.

The Tibetan materials cover a full range of subjects of Tibetan literature, consisting primarily of books on the many forms of Tibetan religion, mostly Buddhism. Other subjects covered include Tibetan language, Sanskrit language, Tibetan history, Tibetan medicine, amd Tibetan Art including the principles of that art and its iconography.

Nawang Thokmey, Research Librarian for Tibetan Studies, UVa *UVa. Email -

[Dated 3 August 2016]

Back to the top


Searching and linking
Searching. In VIRGO, there are various help screens, if you are new to the online catalog system, VIRGO. Look for the HELP button and click on it. Help icon

To log into VIRGO, go to the U. of Virginia Library and click on the VIRGO link.

While in Virgo Classic, if you select "Advanced Search", you can scroll down to LANGUAGES, where you may limit your searching to Tibetan language materials, by clicking on TIBETAN.