Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Asian Studies

Page Coordinator: Originally by Talbott Huey, Revised by Xian Wu 吴宪 Last updated: 05-03-2018

Purpose or Scope of Collection


The context of any collection development policy or program in Asian Studies is 1) the ever-increasing saliency of Asia in world, national, local, and academic affairs; 2) the present commitment of MSU to further internationalize all programs; 3) an ever more ambitious MSU program of teaching and research in the area.


  • A. Purpose

A growing number of scholars and programs at MSU now use and need library materials related to all aspects of East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, and the Pacific region, and MSU Libraries’ collection of Asian-related materials needs to develop on an ongoing and, if resources are available, an increasing basis.

The History Department has a particularly significant concentration of scholars (two in Chinese, two in Japanese, one in Vietnamese studies). Since history is a key field for all Asian Studies programs, and tends to be interdisciplinary, the mandate for library collections is strong across the board. History has had Ph.D. programs with Asian specialization in place for many years.

Undergraduate programs in Chinese and Japanese language, literature, and linguistics are well established and have a secure enrollment base. The university is now adding programs in Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, and other Asian languages. MSUL should acquire basic language learning materials and dictionaries in many Asian languages for research purposes, but not attempt to provide more than a few instructional texts. In the social sciences faculty research is carried on in most disciplines, and graduate specialization is available in anthropology and sociology, with important undergraduate needs also in geography, political science, economics, James Madison College, international development, urban planning, and other interdisciplinary social science programs. In the humanities, similar needs are felt by art, music, philosophy and religion, theater, and interdisciplinary programs. Faculty and graduate student researchers in education, communications, and other interdisciplinary programs also require Asian-related materials.

The Asian Studies Center continually grows and seeks ways to become more active.  The Center routinely applies for and receives Title VI funding, and has consistently raised its standards, accomplishments, and support for the library.  Other organizations with an international character (CASID, WID , etc.) also are active in Asian matters and require library support; CASID/WID routinely uses Title VI funds to support library acquisitions.


  • B. Scope

In the past, Asian-related material has been collected by MSUL in both systematic and idiosyncratic ways. A basic fact of life is that MSUL lives in the shadow of one of the country’s great Asian collections at the University of Michigan; no attempt to compete with this center has been made, nor will be. The chief guideline for our collection(s) is not size, but suitability for supporting MSU programs of teaching, research, and public service and whatever cooperative programs we have commitments to.

A respectable core of English-language monographs on all areas of Asia, obtained from approval plans and firm ordering, has been developed and maintained since the 1950s. Other aspects of collection development have varied in intensity with changing policies and personalities. A program to collect massive amounts of material from India and South Asia through a national Library of Congress PL 480 program beginning in the 1960s at first responded to faculty needs in that area, but by the mid-1980s there were fewer faculty interested in using this research-level collection, and MSUL dropped out of the program in 1987.  In the 1990s MSU Asian Studies efforts were more concentrated on East Asia, and MSUL vastly increased acquisitions in that area, while maintaining a sufficient intake in other areas. The two most recent Title VI grants from the Asian Studies Center have officially specified a “pan-Asian” approach; i.e., legitimate concern with and work on every Asian region, and MSUL should make this the basis of collection development whether future grants come to the Center or not.  The Asian region poses a particular problem of collecting in the vernaculars.  It was decided in the early 1990s to collect only Chinese and Japanese materials in the vernacular, but starting from 2009 Korean and Vietnamese materials have entered the collection in increasing numbers.  Occasionally special materials in other Asian languages e.g., an art exhibition catalog in Thai may also be collected.

Historically, MSUL has built sizable collections of English-language materials on Vietnam (during the period of the Indochina War) and the Philippines, in addition to India.  Some further emphasis should be placed on Australia, other Southeast Asian areas, and North and South Korea.  Collecting materials concerning international development is a heavy emphasis, with good sources in English from Singapore, India, and the Philippines.  Certain sub-national areas with which MSU has had past or present special relationships (e.g., Okinawa, Sichuan) should receive some attention.

Until the 1990s, area studies collections followed the traditional emphasis on the humanities (history, literature, religion). In keeping with national developments in scholarship and new opportunities (e.g., research in China), far more emphasis needed to be placed on the social sciences. The quantity and quality of such material dealing with Asia has increased tremendously (including material from Asian sources) and now forms the bulk of what we need and acquire.

Since grant funded research may be subject to data management requirements, including consideration for publishing and sharing of data, the acquisition of faculty research data for inclusion in the MSU Libraries research data repository will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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