The University of Pittsburgh began its Chinese collection in 1960 after Pitt was selected as one of the twenty National Defense Education Act centers for Chinese studies. Five years later, the East Asian Library was established to include also the Japanese collection.
The Korean materials were also added to the collection since 2000. Today, the East Asian Library has become one of the most prominent East Asian collections in North America, with rich information resources to support the dynamic teaching and research on East Asian Studies at Pitt.
In recent years, the East Asian Library has expanded its collections to include electronic resources, and has established relationships with prominent libraries and information centers throughout East Asia. In 1995, the East Asian Library received a grant from Japan Council for Intercultural Communication to establish a Japan Information Center. In the fall of 1998, the Library also received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and established a East Asian Gateway Service . In July 2004, a Korean academic journal delivery service was also established. With such developments, this library has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing full-fledged and well-equipped information centers for East Asian Studies in North America.