2004 Annual Program: Library Resources and Equal Access

Library Resources and Equal Access:
Serving Chinese Americans in the 21st Century

June 27, 2004 (Sunday), 02:00 - 04:00 pm
The Peabody Orlando, BR II

Orlando, Florida

Program Description:

Equal access to library resources for Chinese American communities will be examined and explored in 3 types of libraries and from the perspective of the field to that of library schools.


  • Peter Zhou, Director of the East Asia Library at University of California-Berkeley

    Embedding East Asian Library in the University Community: Services for Chinese Scholars and Students

    Outline of the Talk

    1. East Asian Library and Chinese Students & Scholars
    2. Chinese Students and Scholars in American Universities
    3. The Changing Times
    4. Developing Collection Resources for the Changing Clientele
    5. Impact of Globalization, Digital Revolution and New Knowledge on Our Services for Chinese Students and Scholars
    6. Celebrating Our Roots and Face the Challenges


    Beginning from the late Qing Dynasty, China sent students and scholars to the United States to study western science and scholarship. Those Chinese students brought Chinese books to America and, as a result, helped create Chinese collections in this country. In 1878, the first Chinese student in America, Rong Hong (Yung Wing, 1828-1912), donated 5,040 Chinese books to Yale, thus creating the first Chinese collection in American universities. Since then, research libraries in the U.S. have been developing in-depth Chinese collections essential to the academic missions of American universities for over a hundred years. For many Chinese students, the Chinese collections are not only critical to their educational and research needs, but they also bring a distant land closer by providing up-to-date information on the social, economic, and cultural developments of their motherland. In this talk, I will discuss how East Asian Library, where Chinese collections reside, is embedded in the university community to help train Chinese students and scholars in the University of California, Berkeley. In the past century, Berkeley has been home to some influential Chinese-American scholars. Among them are Chang-Lin Tien, the former Chancellor of UC Berkeley, Y.T. Lee, the Nobel Laureate, Y.R. Chao, the distinguished Chinese linguist, T.Y. Lin, the renowned engineer and scientist, and Shiing-Shen Chern, the well-known mathematician. Their relations with the East Asian Library are anecdotal, yet inspiring to future generations of Chinese students in this country.

    In recent years, we have seen demographic changes and the internationalization of curricula in many American universities. How to cope with these changes and how to provide effective library services in such changing times remain to be seen. I will discuss those issues and explore ways to better serve the Chinese scholars and students. Impact of globalization, digital revolution and the new economy has provided unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities for enhancing library services and collections. Such issues will be explored as well. The following is an outline of this talk: Chinese students and scholars in American universities; the changing times; developing collection resources for the changing clientele; the impact of globalization, digital revolution and the new economy on our services for Chinese students and scholars; celebrating the Chinese cultural roots and facing the challenges.

  • Thomas Alford, Deputy Director of the Queens Borough Public Library

    Providing Urban Public Library Service in the 21st Century

    Queens is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. The 2000 population figure is about 2.3 million, a 14% increase over the past decade. Our foreign-born population comprises 46.1 % of our total population, and of that 46.1 % about 32 % are Asian. Queens has the largest population in New York City (391,500) or 17.6 % for Asian alone. Among the five boroughs, Queens has the largest population of Chinese, Asian Indians, Koreans, Filipinos, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. 38.7 % of the City’s Chinese total population of 139,820 lives in Queens.

    The Queens Library serves the population of 2.3 million from 63 library locations plus 6 Adult Learning Centers in the borough of Queens. It has circulated more books and other library materials than any other library system in the country since 1994, and is the second largest public library in the U.S. in terms of size of collections.

    The 63 libraries feature collections, programs, resources and services that are relevant to the individual community needs and interests, and provide easy access to library service across Queens. The Central Library is the largest library and serves as community library and reference library. The Flushing Library is the largest and busiest branch library in New York State.

    The 63 libraries have more than 9 million items including books, videotapes, books-on-tape, newspapers, magazines, CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs covering all subject areas. All libraries offer free Internet access and an extensive selection of online reference databases.

    Special multi-lingual collections meet community demand. They include large collections of over 100,000 items each in Spanish and Chinese, extensive fiction and non-fiction collections in Korean, Russian, South Asian Languages, French and Haitian Creole, and materials by and about Caribbean people. Other languages are available on a rotating basis.

    The New Americans Program was established in 1977 to provide special services to the area’s many immigrants. In order to provide information and recreational materials to them, as well as to help them acculturate, the New Americans Program purchases and maintains branch collections in the most widely-spoken languages on essential topics such as job training, citizenship, how to get a home mortgage, etc.; and presents literary, performing and folk arts programs from the newcomers’ home lands.

    Library customers have access to Queens Library’s WorldLinQ, which makes Queens Library’s catalog searchable in languages other than English, including those that use non-Roman characters, such as Chinese and Korean. It also makes non-English Internet-based resources readily available and interactive.

  • David Hickey, Asian Studies Coordinator at University of Florida

    Serving Sinologists and Chinese-Americans At the Local University Library

    It is possible for a university library without a major East Asian collection to serve in some beneficial way the following constituents: 1) Chinese Studies Scholars; 2) China-born scholars not in the field of Chinese Studies, or China-born community members; and 3) American students, faculty, and community members with some Chinese ethnic background.

    Depending on the institutional priorities, the first two constituent groups are best served where the library support for formal academic programs includes a collection manager or library liaison familiar with Chinese and with appropriate bibliographic strategies.

    Librarians and faculty must work closely within the customary tight budget limits in such institutions to emphasize relevant humanities and social science materials that support the undergraduate programs related to China. Librarians must also address faculty and graduate students’ advanced-level research interests and anticipate future program enhancements.

    The impact of a small/medium size academic library’s services on local Sinologists and China enthusiasts is thus related to the library’s success in supporting the particular curricular and research needs of the fields of study related to China. Steady collection growth and recognized quality of its contents emerge as evidence of this success. The wherewithal to provide resources and access points that are meaningful runs the gamut from establishing basic selection criteria, invoking various mechanisms to elicit faculty and knowledgeable staff assistance, heightening selection savvy, reference service facility and book distributor/vendor awareness through various international, national and regional opportunities, to overcoming certain obstacles in ordering, cataloging and shelving the vernacular material.

    Chinese in America, American-Chinese, Chinese Americans -- no single designation conveniently describes the large, often-amorphous and complex academic library user group related ethnically to China outside the Sinologist ranks. The challenges of reaching out to this population and subsequently incorporating access to materials of interest in both Chinese and Western languages are daunting, since library usage needs and interests vary between the above-defined "first-generation" constituents and the "later-generation" constituents.

    All academic libraries should plan in some way to serve the "later-generation" students, faculty, staff and local residents, many of whom do not read Chinese, but who are potentially valuable "shareholders" in the campus life and regional ethnic richness and prosperity. Even if there are not established Asian-American Studies programs and/or pan-Asian campus organizations that might interact directly with the Asian Studies bibliographers in terms of collection building in Asian-American Studies, astute library selectors should be alert to adding English-language resources that address the issues, concerns and possibly unique recreational reading penchants among the diverse individuals within this ethnically-unified community.

  • Ching-chih Chen, Professor at the GSLIS, Simmons College

    Digital Libraries and Universal Access in the 21st Century: Potential for Chinese Americans

    "A picture worth a thousand words," thus my talk will be highly visual. I shall use two projects which I am heavily involved as examples to show how activities like this can bring information services to the Chinese American communities and the world citizens in a way not possible before. These two projects are:

    1. The Million Book Digital Library Project for universal access. Under the leadership of Prof. Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon University, I am privileged to serve as the co-PI of the US-China Million Book Digital Library Project, for which over 14 leading research and higher education institutions in China such as the Chinese Academy of Science, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Nanking University, and Fudan University in Phase I, and 8 others in Phase II in China, are massively digitizing invaluable Chinese and foreign non-copyrighted resources for universal access. In addition to discuss how and why these digital resources can be of invaluable use and value for the Chinese American community and the world citizens for education, research, and enrichment, collaboration for providing collections for addition to this Million Book Universal Library will also be solicited.
    2. Chinese Memory Net (CMNet) and Global Memory Net (GMNet). CMNet is one of the very first US National Science Foundation/ International Digital Library Projects since 2000. It has established a model for international collaboration both for content development as well as for cross-disciplinary research specifically in the multimedia areas. Once it is possible for developing a multimedia digital library in one subject disciplinary or for one geographical area, it is upward scalable to include more subject areas and bigger geographical areas. This was the case with the expansion of the scope of CMNet to GMNet, which literally has space holder for all countries in the world.

    From CMNet, one will be able to retrieve invaluable images of the First Emperor of China, for example, by conducting traditional keyword search using Google protocol, or using the cutting edge content-based image retrieval techniques. These will be demonstrated in real time during the presentation. The potential of this type of digital resources to Chinese American community will be elaborated in greater details during the presentation.

    CMNet can cover all worthy contents related to Chinese culture, history, science and technology, etc. The value of this to Chinese American community should be self evident. On the other hand, GMNet’s provision of the world memory contents in multimedia format will be of great value to the Chinese American community as well since digital technology has made it possible for one to stretch their imagination and need for information and knowledge far beyond the traditional boundaries. These will be discussed in greater details during the presentation.