The Kern Institute library, forming part of the Leiden University Library, is the chief research library for Indology in the Netherlands. The collection comprises 60,000 books and 150 current journals in the field of languages and cultures of South and Central Asia. In addition to this, there are special collections and a closed collection on art and religion of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. Books and journals belonging to the former Documentation Centre South Asia have been integrated into the collection. For a long time the Kern Institute library was housed in a separate location in the Nonnensteeg, adjacent to the Academy building, with a wonderful view on the Hortus Botanicus. In the summer of 2010 these collections were moved to the University Library. The books and journals are stored in open stacks on floor -1.


Special Collections

The Special Collections of the Kern Institute consist of:

  • Collection of photos
  • Tibetan collection
  • Sanskrit manuscripts
  • Lepcha manuscripts
  • Collection of microfiches
  • Archives
  • Maps
  • Rubbings of inscriptions


In order to borrow books and journals a library card is required. This card can be obtained at the University Library. Applicants have to bring their ID (passport, driver’s licence or student’s ID card). For more information on borrowing, renewals, holds etcetera, see the page on the University Library website.


Reference works, old books from before 1900 and current issues of journals cannot be borrowed. Special collections can be consulted only in the library and cannot be borrowed.


Access: books and journals

The collections of books and journals are fully accessible through the online Catalogue of Leiden University. The Kern Institute collections are recognisable by the special catalogue Kern Institute.

The former Kern Institute library