UC BERKELEY LIBRARY    |    HOME    |    SEARCH
 
  
  

NO.53 SUMMER 1999
BENE LEGERE
NEWSLETTER OF THE
LIBRARY ASSOCIATES

The Library Associates

Join more than 6,000 other friends, book lovers, alumni, and faculty who recognize that the influence of a great research library reaches beyond the university it serves to the many communities of which it is a part.

Library Associates receive complimentary copies of the quarterly newsletter Bene Legere, as well as invitations to special occasions at the Library. For more information on the Library Associates program, please write or telephone: The Library Development Office, Room 188 Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; telephone (510) 642-9377. Or, check our website.

     

A Home at Last
The East Asian Library and Studies Center

Mary Beth Ferrari

Picture of Huff, Coney, and Yuen unpacking a crate of the Mitsui Library.

Arrival of the Mitsui Library, January 30, 1951. Pictured are East Asian Librarian Elizabeth Huff, University Librarian Donald Coney, and Professor Yuen Ren Chao unpacking a crate of artifacts.

Last March, the employees of the San Francisco clothing company Esprit de Corp. joined Grand Master Thomas Lin Yun as he prayed that "Esprit de Corp.'s business will be more and more prosperous and more and more successful."

The Tibetan Buddhist teacher was visiting Esprit to bless and celebrate its use of feng shui, a 3,000 year old Chinese art that is said to promote prosperity and well-being by fostering a good flow of ch'i or life-energy through buildings.

A growing number of American businesses are bringing feng shui into their workplaces today. Some are doing it to boost their bottom line, others to attract Asian customers. And still other businesses are embracing the ancient art for internal reasons that relate to marketing only indirectly. Employers are hoping that feng shui will foster a more harmonious working environment which will in turn promote increased productivity and profits.

Whatever the motivation, the influence of Asian culture on the American landscape can be seen at every turn. From acupuncture to feng shui to the latest technological marvel, Asian industry and ingenuity have captured the attention of Americans for centuries. Perhaps nowhere in the nation is this phenomenon more apparent than in California, especially on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Because of its location on the Pacific Rim, UC Berkeley shares a special kinship and lively interaction with the countries of Asia. For well over one hundred years, Asian studies have been central to the teaching, research, and service missions of the University. Its Asian programs consistently rate among the very best in the country and attract scholars and students from all over the world. Of particular interest are the countries and cultures of East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea.

Preeminent Programs

Picture of Durant Hall.

Durant Hall, current home of the East Asian Library.

Berkeley's East Asian Studies programs can trace their roots to the 1872 establishment of the University's first endowed chair, the Agassiz Professorship in Oriental Languages and Literature. For over a century, the programs have thrived and are recognized today both nationally and internationally for their excellent faculty, outstanding students, superb library collections, extensive course offerings, and broad range of conferences, lectures, and exchange programs. Indeed, UC Berkeley's programs in East Asian studies have been highly ranked by the United States Department of Education.

Despite these distinctions, the East Asian Studies program has never had a home of its own. For example, the East Asian Library--the foundation of the program--must divide its holdings among several different campus locations, making instruction and research difficult at best. Although the Library is recognized as a scholarly resource of significant stature with collections that have grown impressively since its founding, over half of these collections are in off-campus storage and not easily accessible.

The Library's shortage of space was first acknowledged in 1980, and concern about the situation grew in the decade that followed. At first, only the construction of a larger building for the East Asian Library was contemplated. However, by 1990 a compelling new vision had taken shape--the image of an integrated center of learning devoted entirely to East Asian studies.

"...it is therefore of the utmost consequence for California that the means shall be provided to instruct our [students], preparing for lives of business activity, in the languages and literature of Eastern Asia. It is the duty of the University to supply this want."

-- Edward Tompkins, 1874 addressing the Regents of the University of California

An Opportunity for Growth

Why not bring together under one roof the three components of UC Berkeley's comprehensive programs in East Asian Studies? Clearly, the East Asian Library, the Department of East Asian Languages, and the Institute of East Asian Studies (with its Centers for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Studies) will benefit from being in close proximity to each other. The result will be a one-of-a-kind East Asian Library and Studies Center that will strengthen teaching and research in the University's already outstanding programs in East Asian Studies. Such an arrangement will foster intellectual interaction, cooperation, and collaboration that is exciting to imagine.

The East Asian Library and Studies Center will create an eagerly anticipated point of convergence for Berkeley's East Asian Studies, ensuring their preeminent position worldwide in the education of tomorrow's leaders in international business, culture, politics, and scholarship. The studies are far reaching, encompassing fifteen academic departments, four curricular groups, and five professional schools across campus. Sixty faculty members teach over one hundred language courses and an equal number in other disciplines, enrolling over 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The new Center will integrate these programs as well as include offices for faculty, staff, and visiting scholars; seminar rooms and other classrooms; an auditorium; exhibit space; and meeting areas.

The East Asian Library

The East Asian Library has been at the very heart of Berkeley's programs in East Asian Studies since its founding in 1947. Offering the largest and most comprehensive collection of East Asian books, serials, documents, manuscripts, and filmed materials in the western United States, the Library is the principal resource for East Asian research and teaching in all nine University of California campuses. Today, the Library includes almost 700,000 bound volumes and serials and is expanding at the rate of 12,000 volumes annually. This distinguished collection includes holdings in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan and is second only to Harvard among American university collections.

The new East Asian Library will be the centerpiece of the East Asian Library and Studies Center. With virtually all of its collections in one campus location, the Library's essential role as a resource will be not only strengthened but also expanded.

Chancellor Berdahl has placed the construction of the East Asian Library and Studies Center at the very forefront of all the priorities for capital projects in the current fundraising campaign. The Center is a top priority of the Chancellor and the entire campus.

For example, a revolutionary center called the Asian Digital Center (ADC), an interdisciplinary research and development organization that will help define the next generation of scholarship, is being contemplated for the new Studies Center. The ADC will train scholars and students how to use information delivered electronically via a high-speed T-3 line from UC Berkeley's partners in Taipei, Seoul, Kyoto, and possibly Beijing and Shanghai. The ADC will not be an electronic library but rather a training unit in which students and scholars will develop methods and solve problems for harnessing an infinitude of information available instantaneously in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. Once the ADC is in place and functioning, UC Berkeley will become the main port of entry in North America for electronically delivered and analyzed information about all aspects of East Asia written in East Asian languages. (Berkeley's Pacific Rim location--at the very point where the transoceanic fiber optic cable comes ashore--underscores its unique position in the academic world.) Collaborative projects that will help build a community of Asian studies scholars will then be possible.

Picture of the East Asian Library in Durant Hall.

Interior of the East Asian Library in Durant Hall.

Special collections have always been the strength of Berkeley's East Asian Library. For example, the Center for Chinese Studies Library, a branch of the East Asian Library and the world's largest academic repository of materials on contemporary China outside China itself, will be an important component of the new East Asian Library. So too, will priceless Japanese holdings, which rank first among American university collections, and include: the 100,000-volume Mitsui Library containing 2,500 early Japanese wood block-printed maps; 7,000 Japanese manuscripts; fine Chinese rubbings; the Doi Gakken, Sochin, and Motoori collections; and the 8,850 volume Murakami Library, almost without rival even in Japan, which contains writings of the Meiji period (1868-1912), many of them first editions. The Ho-Chiang Collection of Buddhist scriptures, which documents the evolution of Buddhist works in China, Japan, and Korea and contains many medieval manuscripts written in gold or silver, and the Asami Library of some 4,000 volumes of classical Korean imprints are additional examples of holdings that will be featured.

In its new home, the East Asian Library will continue to offer support to students across campus and scholars throughout the world with its extensive collections and numerous audio and video cassettes, microform holdings, and CD-ROM databases. Berkeley's own Department of East Asian Languages and Institute of East Asian Studies will be the principal beneficiaries of the Library's strengthened and expanded resources.

The Department of East Asian Languages

All East Asian Studies students, no matter what their disciplines, must attain the language skills necessary for their degrees and future professions. Thus, the Department of East Asian Languages is a core teaching department in the East Asian Studies program. Some seventy courses are offered each year in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Manchu, and Tibetan. A typical undergraduate core curriculum provides training in speaking, reading, and writing the languages as well as basic familiarity with one or more of the language's earlier forms. Other courses stress the philological, linguistic, or literary study of the relevant East Asian culture. The department encourages the study of a culture in a broader geographical and cultural context. Students may pursue M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chinese and Japanese and the M.A. degree in Altaic languages (a family of languages originating in the Altai Mountains on the Mongolian border). Within any of these areas of specialization, students may focus on literary criticism, comparative studies, cultural history, linguistics, a specified period, or the like. All will acquire a solid grounding in both the classical and modern versions of the primary language.

The Institute of East Asian Studies

As an interdisciplinary research unit, the Institute of East Asian Studies links the centers for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean studies, the Chao Yuen Ren Center for Chinese Linguistics, and the Group in Asian Studies, an undergraduate and graduate degree program, and supports collaborative research on modern Asia's history, politics, and economies.

The mission of the Institute is to promote research on East Asia in all the disciplines and professional programs; to strengthen the teaching program on East Asia; to disseminate information about East Asia through outreach programs both inside and outside the University; and to establish close ties with Asian research institutes. The Institute of East Asian Studies hosts between fifty and sixty visiting scholars each year and is the most visited social science research center on the Berkeley campus. The Institute's publications include monographs and conference volumes in subjects ranging from studies of modern Shanghai, social stratification in Japan, prospects for change in North Korea, and cultural nationalism in East Asia.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

When completed, the East Asian Library and Studies Center will provide a much needed focal point for teaching, research, and the critical exchange of scholarly information and opinion, surpassing any comparable facility in the United States. The new facility will be situated in the center of the campus and will serve as a symbol of the prominent position of East Asian Studies in the curriculum, intellectual life, and architectural planning of the University. More than any other American institution, UC Berkeley realizes the importance of studying East Asia. Thus, it is particularly appropriate that its East Asian scholarship possess the depth and breadth needed to lead the way to a more profound understanding of East Asian culture and influence. The East Asian Library and Studies Center will provide an environment in which such scholarship will continue to thrive.


[top] [prev] [next]

HELP / FAQ    |    CATALOGS    |    COMMENTS    |    HOME
Copyright © 2005 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by the Library Development Office
Originally published Summer 1999. Server manager: contact