The context of any collection development policy or program in East Asian Studies is 1) the ever-increasing salience of East Asia in global, 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 growing number of scholars and programs at MSU now use and need library materials related to all aspects of East Asia, Australasia, and the Pacific region. Scholars in humanities and social sciences areas, especially in history, in religious studies, in languages and linguistics, in James Madison College and Lyman Briggs College, and in the College of Education, are heavy users of East Asian materials. MSU Libraries’ collection of East Asian-related materials needs to develop on an ongoing and, if resources are available, an increasing basis. 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 East 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. MSUL should acquire basic language learning materials and dictionaries in East 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 East 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. East Asian Studies related law materials are in general not within the collection consideration because MSU has its own law library on campus.
In the past, East 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 East 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. It was decided in the early 1990s to collect only Chinese and Japanese materials in the vernacular, but starting from 2009 Korean materials have entered the collection in increasing numbers.
Some further emphasis should be placed on Taiwan, and North and South Korea. English materials concerning cross-national scholarships such as US-China, US-Japan, US-East Asia, US-Taiwan, Europe-East Asia, Japan-Korea, Africa-China, Latin America-China, India-China, and etc. will be an integral part of collection development.
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 East Asia has increased tremendously, and now forms the bulk of what we need and acquire.
We seek out historically underrepresented and marginalized voices, identities, and perspectives to diversify and fill gaps in our collections.