CADAL (China Academic Digital Associative Library) is a government-sponsored cooperative project of some 120+ academic libraries (2020), about half of which are from China, to create electronic resources for the use of their patrons. The venture is led by and housed in Zhejiang University, and most major Chinese academic institutions such as Peking, Qinghua, Fudan and Nanjing universities were participants from the beginning. CADAL originally grew out of a China-American Digital Academic Library venture, but only from the mid-2010s a select group of overseas libraries have received access.
The major resource created by CADAL is a collection of scanned books, both in and out of copyright: 240 thousand ancient texts (including the Xuxiu siku quanshu 续修四库全书), 180 thousand republican works, 155 thousand republican periodical issues, 40 thousand newspaper issues, 800 thousand post-1949 books, 690 thousand works in Western languages, 13 thousand special collection works, 4 thousand videos, 55 thousand audiobooks and 63 thousand images. The collection is constantly increasing. The titles are not full-text searchable; but tables of contents are provided for easy navigation. Lately CADAL has added some special sections for material connected to the Manchuria Railway 满铁 13 thousand titles, modern local gazetteers 17 thousand, material on overseas Chinese 侨批 50 thousand items, and oracle bones from various institutions including from Princeton scanned with Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technology.
(In addition to the e-books database, the navigation bar also gives access to some other resources: calligraphic works (shufa 书法), a literary timeline (Zhongguo wenxue biannian shi 中国文学编年史), Chinese medicine (zhongyiyao 中医药), and Audio (yinpinku 音频库). Note that the video choice, available only in English, brings one to the main e-books database.)
Access to the books is dependent on the copyright status of the book: while some free access is available, especially to the ancient texts, access to in-copyright books is restricted to registered users at participant libraries: one borrows parts of books, which need to be returned in order to have them become available to other users. Hence, one first has to register (zhuce 注册), and in subsequent visits to log-in (denglu 登录). For this please select 登录/注册 from the upper right of the CADAL home page. To register then click on 快速注册. Please note that it is not necessary to add a mobile phone number 手机号 in order to the register and it is also not necessary to retrieve a verification code if one does not want to connect the personal account to a Chinese mobile phone number. The registration process can be soley finished via a valid email. After registration, the system will ask for an affiliation at the first login. Please choose IP range and select “Princeton University” as your affiliation (suozai danwei 所在单位). The system will connect your account to Princeton for 180 days. For this to work you must be either using the system from a university computer (including within the library), or access the database via the library link at the top of this database description.
Activities one performs when logged-in, including borrowing books, note-taking etc., are visible to all users from search pages etc.: hence, make sure to log-out especially on shared public computers. One is not logged out automatically, even not after days. To log-out, go to one’s personal account page (registeredname’s CADAL in the English, registeredname的CADAL in the Chinese interface), and click on tuichu 推 出. This account page is available in the top navigation bar, and is also the page from where one returns books, see one’s borrowing history, etc. (One can choose to set the interface to English, but only a limited number of top-level screens have been translated.)
Once logged in, and directed to one’s account page, one can perform a simple search in the search box. On the resulting page, one can somewhat refine one’s search by limiting the result to title or author, and by selecting some rough facets of categories (such as ancient books or republican-period books—note that all categories are listed, even if not applicable), tags (biaoqian 标签 ) or publisher.
Under a cover image of each result, one can choose to see more details on the book, or decide to read it by clicking on the book. If choosing to read it, one is brought to a reader interface where one can display the table of contents, navigate forward and backward within a book, and change the display from one page to two pages at a time and vice versa. Printing (by right-clicking, one page at a time) does not work very well—it may be better to take screen shots.
Depending on the copyright status of the book, one will receive a request after viewing a couple of pages to check out the remainder of the chapter (jieyue 借阅). One receives a message that borrowing was successful (if the item was not borrowed by someone else), and can continue to read.
To return the chapter to the CADAL library, navigate to the borrowing page (jieyue in the top navigation bar), where one can see the status of one’s checking in-and-out. Click, if not yet selected, on the weihuan 未还button, and then return chapters by clicking on guihuan 归还 after each chapter one has checked out. And remember to log-out (also possible from this page.)
One can look at one’s notes, tags, comments, messages etc. from the navigation bar, and there may be recommendations listed based upon one’s readings.
Please note: As of April 1, 2023, the Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC) imposed new oversight requirements on specific content types appearing in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI). Due to these requirements, full text downloads of four content types will be temporarily suspended: dissertations, conference proceedings, patents, and statistics. For more information please see: https://www.eastview.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Chinese_regulatory_actions_impact_map.pdf
Selected dissertations and theses from various universities in Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong University are available in this database. Starting date varies; HKU starts in 1990, others in the 2000s. The database has moved into the general Taiwanese AiritiLibrary, which includes also Taiwanese periodical literature. To actually retrieve theses, searches have to be limited to "CETD". It. includes many more dissertations than available for free on the NCL website which is available for free: National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations in Taiwan
Access to citations and abstracts for every title in the Dissertation Abstracts database, including those on East Asia. Dissertations written from 1997 forward are available full text; many earlier ones as well. The database includes citations to dissertations from 1861 to those accepted last semester. Citations for dissertations and master’s theses published from 1980 forward have abstracts.
Wanfang’s Dissertations and theses database. This database includes more than 2 million dissertations and theses, and hence is much larger than the history and literature (doctoral) dissertations and (master) theses parts of the CNKI equivalent previously available. Note that you can narrow down your results not only by using the topical and chronological facets, but also by typing within the tab-looking grey boxes on top of your results: e.g., by typing 北京大学 in the 学校 box. As with all Wanfang databases, once on the Wanfang home page, you can move from database to database via tabs. The “xue shu lun wen” tab combines several databases into one mega-search, and you can also combine searches across databases using the advanced search option.