Trace Foundation’s Latse Library was established as a project of Trace Foundation in 2003. Its aim is to further the foundation's mission of promoting the cultural continuity and sustainable development of Tibetan communities within China.
Through our collections and activities, Latse Library fosters appreciation for the origins, breadth, and vitality of Tibetan culture. It is a venue for Tibetans, scholars, and other visitors from all over the world to deepen their knowledge, to exchange ideas, and to share and explore the many facets of contemporary Tibetan culture.
The predecessor to Latse Library was Himalayan and Inner Asian Resources (HIAR), which was implemented by Trace Foundation in 1995. Headed at the time by Gene Smith, HIAR had a broad collection scope and holdings in several languages. In 2002, a reassessment of how best to address the gaps in documenting the modern Tibetan experience led to a narrowing of focus to contemporary Tibet. The context of contemporary Tibet, especially since 1950, was somewhat overlooked and was little collected by most libraries at the time. The new focus would recognize the importance of filling this gap, both in terms of documenting this time period and in its intrinsic significance to explain the Tibetan situation today. At the same time, HIAR was anticipating an increase of interest in modern Tibetan studies and positioned itself to play a vital role in its development. With a new focus came a new name: Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, which was later shortened to simply Latse Library.
Today the library is recognized both in the States and abroad, not only for its collections, but also for its expertise and its programs. Our library catalog is current and comprehensive and is constantly updated by our team of professionals. The Bya-ra Database, a bibliographic resource of research articles in the Tibetan language, is also maintained by the library staff. Regular classes include our Children’s Program and Tibetan Book Club. The library's reading room is also the venue for Trace Foundation's regular talks and cultural events.