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Harvard East Asian Conference Focuses on Collaboration

East Asian librarians from Ivy League and beyond attend two-day Harvard conference.


December 11, 2012—The beginning of the 21st century has brought with it an increasing amount of digital information in addition to traditional print material, presenting a number of challenges and pressures to academic research libraries across the nation and beyond.


That is why Harvard-Yenching Librarian James Cheng brought together his colleagues from Ivy League and non-Ivy League schools to discuss how East Asian research libraries can better collaborate to ensure their valuable collections are accessible for scholarly research.


“Harvard cannot do it all alone,” said Cheng. “Collaboration is a timely topic for us all, and while we are all here, we can use this opportunity to talk about acquisitions, consortiums, technical services and the future of East Asian libraries.”


Librarians from Cornell, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, the University of Chicago, and from far as away as China joined their Harvard counterparts on Dec. 6 and 7 in the Lamont Forum Room for a two-day conference to discuss the challenges they face, and possible solutions.


“The theme of this conference is where we can cooperate and how, and where we cannot cooperate and why,” Cheng said.


In the past, libraries had focused on building collections to be used locally, but advances in technology have led to changes in access and research.


“Scholars work around the world to address their areas of interest, but those resources don’t exist in just once place,” said Mary Lee Kennedy, senior associate provost for the Harvard Library. “This is such a burgeoning area and the collections are so rich. There are enormous amounts of materials and the question is how do we jointly own stewardship of that, and then how do we jointly own making that accessible. “


Kennedy pointed out Harvard is already working toward greater collaboration, with the Library’s recent announcement it would share several of its collections with the Digital Public Library of America.