The late Pendeta Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Ahmad was born in the village of Bukit Kerdas on 16th September 1895 (died 23rd October 1973) and was a famous religious scholar and the only one in his village who could read and write Jawi, a system of writing that uses Malay and Arabic characters. He has taught the Malay language at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and returned to be a senior lecturer at the University of Malaya. He was the first Professor of Malay Studies in the University. He was given the title Tan Sri and later Pendeta for his contributions and upgrading of the Malay language. His collection was donated to the University of Malaya on 16 October 1965. It consists of materials pertaining to the Malay language and literature, Arab language and other related items on Islamic studies, politics, history and education, in addition to his letter correspondences. Most of these materials were published as early as 1908. His personal and official correspondence reveals the lifestyle and culture during the early days in the country and his viewpoints regarding the current issues then. Some of the outstanding unique titles include Kitab Rahsia Ejaan Jawi (1929), Kamus Buku Katan P.B.M.P.B Diraja Johor (1936), Kitab Kata-kata Melayu, Kata-kata Serumpun Dalam Bahasa Melayu (1957), Easy Malay Vocabulary (1929) and Loghat Empat Bahasa Arab, Parsi, Urdu dan Melayu (1908).
Royal Professor Dr Ungku Aziz is an internationally renowned economist serving in the committees of UNESCO, FAO, ILO and in the ASEAN region. He was also the third and longest serving Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya from 1965 until 1988 (24 years). He was the first Malay to become a professor and vice chancellor in the country. The collection consists of a copy of everything written by him and also his own collection.
Ibrahim Ya’kob is a Malay nationalist whose collection was published during the second world war from the 1940s. Most of the materials cover the history and politics of Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and China and are in languages such as Malay, Indonesian, English and Russian.
Father Emanuel Joaquim Pintado was a priest at St. Peter’s Church in Malacca during the 19th century. His collection consists of books on the overseas Portuguese. The collection describes the activities carried out by the Portuguese during their reign in Malacca, Africa, India, Asia and Far East.
Professor Michael Godfrey Swift or Mohamad Yusof Abdullah married a local and was attached to the University of Malaya in Singapore from 1957 until 1960. He was one of the well known social anthropologist in the country. One of his valuable contributions was the Malay Peasant Society published in 1965 is still considered a classic literature on social anthropology. His collected works entitled Social Anthropology of the Malays : Collected Essays is still referred to. This personal collection was donated by his family.
Professor Emeritus Dato’ Dr. Mohd Taib Osman was the fifth Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya and also the Dean of the Academy of Malay Studies from 1991to 1994. His collection consists of works in the areas of social sciences and humanities.
The Malay manuscripts in the library are in the form of Jawi script. In total, the Library has acquired and preserved 326 Malay manuscripts. In addition to Malay manuscripts, there are also a manuscripts written about the Pali Buddhist scriptures from Burma, religious rituals in Bali and traditional medicine of the Batak people.
The Dutch Collection consists of materials on the history, culture, arts, literature and languages of the Malay Archipelago during the Dutch era in Malacca from 1641 until 1824. Data from the materials can be used to visualise the local history during that period. Some of the handwritten documents about Malacca during Dutch rule have been microfilmed. As early as the 18th Century, the Dutch have published books on literature, grammar and dictionaries in the Malay language. One of the outstanding book is the WNT which is a 40 voluminous Dutch dictionary. Others include Buku Tatabahasa Bahasa Melayu and Kamus Belanda-Melayu dan Melayu-Belanda.
Dream of the Red Chamber or Hong Lou Meng is a celebrated Chinese classical novel noted for its noble ideas and aesthetic values. This literary masterpiece has generated significant intellectual interest and research, with a new discipline created, namely, “Redology”, devoted solely to its study. In 2016, alumnus Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy donated his 40 years of worldwide collection of the novel in order to establish a “Dream of the Red Chamber Research Collection” in the library of his alma mater University of Malaya.
This is a rich compilation of Dream of the Red Chamber with many types of manuscripts, representing more than 10 different languages and 20 various translations. Since the inception of “Redology” many works related to Dream of the Red Chamber have been published and produced, including research materials related to Cao Xueqin and academic dissertations. The age of this collection spans over 200 years, from as early as the Jia Qing period (Qing Dynasty, 1796-1820) to the present times.
The University of Malaya (UM) has exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Central Library (NCL), Taiwan on 13th July 2015. With the understanding, a Taiwan Resource Centre for Chinese Studies (TRCCS) is set up as part of its permanent collections. This resource centre is located in East Asian Studies Library (Level 4, Za’ba Memorial Library Building).
The TRCCS will be the platform to promote and share Chinese Studies resources. The National Central Library, Taiwan will continue to donate books to enhance TRCCS Collection. Furthermore, they also provide access to their digital resources as well as e-databases provided by major institutes in Taiwan. This resource centre is beneficial to the faculty, scholars and students of UM.