The Library began building a major Chinese collection in 1961, when
the noted Harvard Sinologist, Charles Sidney Gardner, father of Professor
John Gardner of Brownıs English Department, donated approximately 30,000
volumes on Chinese history and literature. The "Gardner Collection",
as it was named, has grown from that nucleus. In 1965, a Federal grant
led to the formal establishment of Brownıs East Asia Language and Area
Center, which has since become the Department of East Asian Studies
(EAS). Regular acquisitions added to the holdings and, in 1980, a grant
from the Japan Foundation funded the beginnings of the Japanese Collection.
A Korean Collection, built through special donations and a memorial
fund, began in 1985. With their introduction into the Gardner Collection,
it was renamed the East Asian Collection (EAC).
The Collection has grown for the last four decades to become an integral
part of the research resources at Brown. The original gift was especially
rich in works on the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which was Professor Gardner's
specialty. The holdings of the EAC now also cover linguistics, philosophy,
religion, fine arts, and the social sciences. Many faculty members,
alumni, visiting scholars, and other friends of the Library have contributed
to its development by donating books or funds. The Library has also
received gift and exchange materials from other major East Asian collections.
Currently, there are 90,469 volumes in Chinese, 8,348 volumes in Japanese,
and 4,628 volumes in Korean, in addition to 452 current serials and
786 reels of microfilm in East Asian languages. With total holdings
of 103,445 volumes, our overall collection ranks 31st out of the 66
major collections in North American research institutions. The Chinese
collection itself ranks 26th.
The primary clients of the Collection are students and faculty of EAS,
visiting scholars, and international students from East Asian countries.
However, it also provides opportunities for users from other area communities
and institutions of higher learning, as well as faculty and graduate
students in various fields. The latter include humanities departments
like American Civilization, Comparative Literature, History of Art and
Architecture, and Religious Studies, and, in the social sciences, Anthropology,
Economics, Political Science, and Sociology.
In recent years, as the teaching and research interests in the area
have grown, the Library has sought to balance social sciences and humanities
acquisitions, while covering from ancient through contemporary times.
Collection priority has also been given to basic reference resources
and key journals. Moreover, the Library has attempted to make more material
accessible for the users by acquiring electronic resources. With the
national conversion of bibliographic records from the Wade-Giles system
to the Pinyin romanization scheme for Chinese characters, which started
on October 1, 2000, users can more easily access the Asian resources
in the online catalog. In particular, the Millennium upgrade of Josiah
will enable library patrons to input and display Chinese, Japanese and
Korean vernacular fonts. So, as one of two major collections in the
Boston Library Consortium, Brownıs EAC will be more open to resource
sharing with other libraries.
Today, with the Pacific Rim becoming more important, there are growing
demands for area studies, which draw on materials in East Asian languages.
It is important to enhance the quality and quantity of our EAC to fulfill
the Libraryıs mission. Academic libraries now face increasing challenges
and opportunities, and new technologies will transform East Asian resources
from local, self-sufficient collections to part of a worldwide, interdependent
system. Therefore, efforts will continue to be focused on building a
collection which reflects the increasing academic needs of the users;
ensuring effective bibliographic control for intellectual and physical
access to resources (print and electronic); and providing the best services
for our clientele, primarily our faculty and students. With the support
of the University, the Library, and especially the patrons, the East
Asian Collection will keep developing in order to increase access to
information, knowledge, and wisdom for a new academic world in the information
- Li Wang