Newsletter No. 60 (July 2012)


Report on
CEAL Meetings/AAS Annual Conference

March 2012, Toronto, Canada

Rebecca Wong, Manager, Menzies Library, the Australian National University



The 2012 Council of East Asian Librarian (CEAL) Meetings was held in conjunction with the Association of Asian Studies Conference in Toronto this year, with a pre-meeting workshop on Resource Description and Access (RDA) with special emphasis on Chinese-Japanese-Korean (CJK) materials.  This report summarized key discussions and issues raised during the CEAL activities and observations from AAS Conference.

RDA & CJK Materials Workshop

The RDA & CJK Materials Workshop, held on 13 March in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, was conducted by East Asian Librarians from Brigham Young University, Columbia University, University of California, San Diego, and University of Chicago.  It attracted more than 60 participants from within North America and other parts of the world.

The workshop began with an introductory explanation of Resource Description and Access (RDA).  The trainer explained how RDA is organized to relate bibliographic description to the entities, attributes and relationships frameworks and data elements in Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD). 

Examples were given to highlight the differences between AACR2 and RDA, as well as Library of Congress Rules Interpretation (LCRI) and Library of Congress Policy Statements (LCPS), with emphasis on how LCPS offers guidance on Library of Congress (LC) policy under RDA and offers more room for judgement by cataloguers.  The training documents resemble the one created by Adam L. Schiff (U of Washington) in 2010, focusing on their basic differences, but with ample CJK examples.

Trainers also shared their experience on how their libraries managed the transitions in relation to copy/original cataloguing workflows, as well as local decisions made under the provision of RDA.  CEAL Committee of Technical Processing (CTP) members are also working closely with Library of Congress on concerns and issues of RDA on CJK materials cataloguing, as exemplified below:

  • Some libraries are against the idea of making parallel fields optional because of the negative impact on retrieval rate.
  • In regards to Serials cataloguing, RDA is not regarded as sensible as CONSER
  • RDA makes the video-recording catalogue records longer and more difficult to read but does not add much value
  • RDA does not provide a definition to colophon – this has a significant impact on Tibetan materials and this issue had been raised to LC.

Trainers commented that while RDA is evolving, any concern is to be voiced to LC via CTP. Also in view of the broad provision of local decisions under RDA, one should catalogue by rule, not by example.

Soon after the training, the Group also solicited free trial of RDA Toolkits for participants.  Training materials from the workshop and their latest updates are posted on a wiki site. Meanwhile, since RDA is still evolving, the trainers and the Committee of Technical Processing of CEAL are in the process of determining best ways to maintain the site. Once a decision is made, the site will be opened to the public.  An announcement will be made via CEAL news blog and the eastlib list.

The works of the CEAL Committee on Technical Processing are of significant value to CJK Librarians.  CTP members demonstrated excellent collaboration and leadership within the community, and are very willing to share their information with the public.  Besides providing a platform for professional exchange between experts, CJK librarians (with limited resources and expertise support) will also significantly benefit from the works of CEAL CTP.

Fig. 1 RDA & CJK Materials Workshop

CEAL Meetings

Plenary I Business Meeting

The Annual CEAL Meeting officially went from 14 March to 18 March.  Being the Secretary of the East Asian Library Resources Group of Australia (EALRGA), I was offered the prime time of the Plenary I Business Meeting session to address more than 150 attendees to introduce the mission, and activities of EALRGA.  This was intended to encourage further professional exchange and networking between CEAL members and East Asian librarians in Australia.  EALRGA bookmarks were distributed after the session.

In this session, it was announced that CEAL’s publication, the Journal of East Asian Libraries (JEAL) is now a peer reviewed journal.  The President of CEAL, Ms Joy Kim of University of Southern California officially passed the seal of CEAL to Dr. Peter Zhou of UC Berkeley, who will now serve as CEAL President from 2012-2014.

Fig. 2 Rebecca Wong (Australian National University) presenting EALRGA in Plenary I

Plenary II “Organizational Changes in Research Libraries and Their Impact on East Asian Collections: CEAL's Strategic Position”.

There were four speakers in this part of the Plenary Meeting.

Future of Libraries and Area Studies Collections (Larry Alford, Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries)

Mr. Alford’s presentation was a perfect start for this session because he provided an overview of local area studies collections such as the need to

  • buy library materials outside conventional ways (e.g. onsite purchase by cash, local knowledge, etc.)
  • how digitization supports scholars’ demand on web scale sources
  • why print resources still matter
  • libraries cooperate and compete, but let’s cooperate first
  • the importance of collecting not only for today but for 100 years to come by research libraries.

He gave examples on special international collaboration projects, e.g. Rare Book Digitization programs between Academic Sinica Taiwan and Princeton, and between National Library of China and Harvard Yenching Library, to illustrate the need for libraries to collaborate and develop a web scale network to share expertise under the current volatile economic environment.   Internally, special library staff needs to partner and integrate into the library system to optimize operational resources, especially on technical issues.  He raised examples of how an area studies library could partner with a science library on data preservation and curating to prevent the possible loss of records. These include acquisition of social media and other contemporary digital information.

Area studies collections and staff were recognized as a connector between scholars and ideas, and served an important role to bring together community and scholastics events.  Some examples happening in the University of Toronto are the RCL Canada-Hong Kong Library, which actively coordinates local and international relationship and partnerships between scholars and institutions from within North America, Hong Kong, Macau, and China to promote Hong Kong studies.

When asked about the implication of fierce budget cuts, Mr. Alford commented that zero base budgets might not always be applicable for critical collections.  He considered that usage factors should be properly weighted.  Management needs to look into historical reasons when deciding on collection budgets to ensure fair access for faculty and students. 

Strategic Directions at Harvard Libraries (James Cheng, Harvard University)

Mr. James Cheng presented on the recent reorganization of the Harvard University Library, which was described as the “most radical change in 375 years”.

The change involves an 18 months project, to be completed by the end of 2013 and involves re-organization of the library budget.  The existing 100+ libraries will be reorganized into 73, and integrated into five affinity groups and four shared services, while Heads of the five affinity groups will contribute to the future Harvard vision, where the 73 Library heads will manage their own libraries with support from four shared services (Information and Technical Services, Preservation and Digital Imagining, Access, Financial) in a “coordinated decentralized” manner.

He then focused on the experience of the Harvard Yenching Library (HYL) – established in 1928 under the Harvard-Yenching Institute.  The Library became part of Harvard College Library in 1976 and later on became part of Harvard University Library while it is still half funded by Harvard Yenching Institute today.

Attempts to centralize the technical services division of the Harvard Yenching Library into the new system didn’t work because of HYL’s sheer scale and specialization.  It is the third largest library and an area study library.  It was proven that bibliographers need support from cataloguing and technical services staff on site to maintain current service standards for users.

Therefore, the local HYL organizational structure remains unchanged but will keep updating its workflows to improve efficiency by progressively introducing technical outsourcing and by increasing staff involvement into the mainstream.   The heart and soul of HYL is the collection. Any savings from restructuring will be protected in the collection budget.  The Library will continue to develop 25,000 titles per year of print collections with awareness of the fact that there will not be sufficient staff to do the processing at current rates. They will continue to develop digitization projects and make special collection available and free on the web.

New Horizons and Boundaries: Discussions in the University of California Libraries (Peter Zhou, University of California Berkeley)

Dr. Zhou shared the mission of the UC Berkeley Libraries, which is to maintain common value as a research library, adjust print to digital transition, and gain economies of scale and to meet latest needs.

The UC Berkeley C.V. Starr East Asia Library collaborates campus-wide on projects such as serials cancellations, patron-driven acquisitions, and reference services.  At the technical end, the Library uses Google Book and Hathi Trust to bring hidden collections to light.  The Library also increases contribution to the Meryl union catalogue and stops creating romanized entries to reduce duplicate efforts.

The East Asia Library has already adopted shelf ready services and joined a part of the UC-wide backlog reduction program.  The idea of integrating the East Asia Library’s Technical Services team with the Central Technical Services is not currently being contemplated. This was because of an inability to duplicate expertise on overseas protocols in the Central Technical Services.  

Reorganization of Technical Services in Princeton (Tai-loi Ma, Princeton University)

Mr. Ma presented on the radical reorganization recently undergone in the Princeton University, which included the removal of the Library’s Human Resources Department.  All hiring needs now require University Committee approval.

There were suggestions to move East Asian Library technical staffs to the main library’s technical services’ off-campus office.  However, since the move will handicap collection management and specialized user services, the technical staff will stay in the East Asian Library while the supervisor of the team reports to the Associate University Librarian in charge of Technical Services.

Fig 3. Plenary II.  From the left:  Zhijia Shen (University of Washington), Joy Kim (University of Southern California), Tai-loi Ma (Princeton University), Peter Zhou (University of California Berkeley), Larry Alford (University of Toronto), James Cheng (Harvard University)

CEAL Committees Meetings

Joint Session: Committee on Public Services (CPS) and Committee on Technical Processing (CTP)

The theme of the joint session is “Discovery, Delivery and Dissemination of Information in a multilingual and multicultural environment”. 

Discussions explored the potential of the semantic web.  It enables an open exchange and mapping of data to overcome the double handling of linked data such as library catalogues, which still require local copying between individual libraries where the data remains mostly in the hands of the original preferential hosts.    Implementing RDA was a step to setting up the ground work for future development of a semantic web.  This has been actively explored by national libraries though most university libraries still take on an observers’ role.

Xiaoli Li from UC Davis Library talked about the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) (ISO 27729) which is a new standard supporting the linking of data to the semantic web.  The Standard ISO27729:2012 was officially published a week before the CEAL meeting.  ISNI functions as a bridge identifier which links proprietary party identification systems.  The registered ISNI agency (currently Bowker, ProQuest) shares the number across the global digital information industry, enabling research organizations to apply it to content by or about the individual held in their databases.  The 16-digit identifiers are assigned to the Public Identities of Parties that participate in the creation, production, management or distribution of cultural goods in the digital environment.  These Parties can be natural persons (a human being like a book author), legal entities (like a record label) or even fictional characters (such as Peter Pan).  A couple of examples were raised to compare the capability of identifying Chinese and Japanese personal authors by ISNI and LC name authority.  Its role in information discovery in a multilingual digital environment was discussed.

Committee on Chinese Materials (CCM)

The theme of this year’s CCM Annual Meeting is “Collection Development for Chinese Studies in Digital Age – Challenges and Strategies”.

The session began with a presentation by Dr. Li Wang of Brown University, on publishing trends in Chinese Scholarly Resources.  He revealed statistics which illustrated the substantial growth of publishing in China – print publications doubled between 2001 to 2010 and electronic resources have increased five fold.  New titles published in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan totaled over 192,000 titles. A considerable increase of Chinese e-books along with other types of digital products is about to be experienced.  A study of e-book holdings among CEAL libraries in 2010 revealed that approximately 95% of CJK e-book titles held are Chinese materials, which in turn represents 20% of total Chinese collections within the CEAL libraries.  Given the impact of the Chinese publishing enterprise as a rising cultural soft power and its emerging global presence, increased demands by researchers of Chinese scholarly resources should not be undermined.

The Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) has a long history of collaborations since 1930.  From 1960 onward, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Duke University have been cooperating on Chinese and Japanese collection development and library services.  Hsi-Chu Bolick and Luo Zhou from the two libraries talked about their  “TRLN Beyond Print Summit in August 2011”, in which statistical studies were performed to determine the extent of overlap of print and electronic materials across network partners. It was found that at least 71% of ebooks are duplicated in print in other institutions, and out of the 29% without duplication in print in other institutions, 84% are licensed by multiple libraries.  This pushes the exploration of how e-books can be shared in a consortia environment. The presenters raised the importance of modifying terminologies towards a more descriptive manner (e.g. use resource sharing instead of ILL) and increase in transparency of cost models.  When talked about e-book sharing in a consortia environment, a two-layer model was being discussed.  These include purchasing a core collection at negotiated multiplier rates by all members. For individual purchases by members (user-driven or selected), one copy in a consortium with consortium access is permitted until a threshold is triggered which will attract additional fees to a cap. The consortium is moving towards pilots and experimentation of e-book sharing with Ebrary.  Some details, such as how to set a fair short-term loan cost, or what is a fair level of artificial scarcity to enable ILL activities, are yet to be worked out.

The next presentation by Yang Jidong of University of Michigan addressed the needs, methods, and issues on collecting non-Chinese materials from China.  He talked about modern and historical languages being used in today’s People’s Republic of China, which is indeed a multilingual society.  Current or extinct languages ranges from Sino-Tibetan languages (e.g. Chinese, Tibetan, Naxi), Tai-Kadai languages (e.g. Tai/Dai, Shui), Ural-Altaic languages (e.g. Mongolian, Korean, Uighur, Kazakh, or even Old Turkic which is extinct), Indo-European languages (e.g. English, Russian, French, German, Sanskrit etc.), and Afro-Asiatic languages (e.g. Arabic, Hebrew).

Many ethnic materials published in China, despite sometimes being considered more for political propaganda purposes, are purely academic books written by minority scholars on their languages, histories, and cultures.  Dr. Yang pointed out that librarians distinguish the nature of the titles from information in Chinese in the colophon of the books.  These ethnic materials are available via major Chinese book vendors in print and some are also in electronic formats.  One challenge on collecting ethnic materials is cataloging.  It is found that many of the materials are wrongly coded as Chinese in WorldCat despite the fact that LC has Romanization rules established for Tibetan, Mongolian and Uighur.  There are also widely accepted romanization rules among researchers for some other Chinese minority languages which can be adapted.  Lacking staff with specific language skills, there is a need on greater cooperation among collecting libraries and scholars.  Library staff were also encouraged to “study a few more alphabets for fun” in order to overcome the hurdles.  Dr. Yang’s comments are particular revealing not just for ethnic materials from China, but on how librarians can apply cataloguing skill across various languages.

Yan Wang, a CALIS staff working in Harvard Yenching Library through an exchange program, talked about  “Cooperation and Collaborations between CALIS and East Asian Libraries in North America – Services for Services”.   CALIS is a nation-wide academic library consortium in China led by the Chinese Ministry of Education.  It has more than 1,000 members.  As hinted in the subtitle of the presentation, the cooperation runs in a model with the lowest budget or monetary transactions.  It is also CALIS’ mission to integrating overseas services to support services for universities in mainland China.

CALIS now enables free Z39.50 download of their bibliographic records by partner libraries such as KERIS (Korea Education & Research Information Service) member libraries, Chinese University of Hong Kong Library, Hong Kong Baptist University Library, Macau University of Science and Technology Library and Harvard-Yenching Library.  In November 2011, CALIS and OCLC agreed on a one-off transferal of 500,000 CALIS record created between 1987-2003, into OCLC Worldcat, while CALIS was responsible for converting the original CNMARC into MARC21.

The agreements also include document delivery services with caps on numbers of transactions per year; access by partner libraries to CALIS shared Acquisition System to provide acquisition services of Chinese publications, and data processing services. 
CALIS is now working with partner libraries to integrate special collections in libraries in North America with those in mainland China to develop new databases.

Forum on Chinese Digital Content

In the CCM Forum, presenters shared the evaluation and comparison of major and new Chinese electronic resources.  Databases evaluated include 中国基本古籍库及分库 (Chinese Classic Text database by Erudition),晚清民国期刊全文数据库 (Later Qing and Minguo Periodicals full-text database),中国文化大革命及反右运动数据库 (The Chinese Cultural Revolution & Anti-Rightist Campaign Database), 中国历代典籍总目分析系统,龙源 (Dragon Source) and申报 (Shen Bao). Details of product reviews are now available from 2012 CEAL Conference Committee on Chinese Materials Annual Meeting 2012 website (http://www.eastasianlib.org/ccm/Program2012.html ).

It was reported that one-third of CEAL libraries spent less than $100,000 on e-resources, only five libraries spent between $600,000 to $800,000.  The shift of print subscription to electronic has reached 50.3%.  In terms of pricing, Japanese and Korean materials demonstrate better transparency while Chinese materials do not have online pricing.  To overcome the mysteries and variation of pricing, CEAL libraries are encouraged to reveal purchase prices to facilitate negotiation.  Also the concern about business model of marketing electronic products before their completion and make libraries purchase “out of plan” is raised in the discussion.

China International Book Trading Corporation (CIBTC) / Committee on Japanese Materials Program (CJM)

The following day started with an early morning session by CIBTC on their various services such as approval plans, print on demand, technical outsourcing services, as well as their database projects.

The Committee on Japanese Materials meetings ran in parallel with the CIBTC presentations. The theme of the CJM meeting continued last years’ discussion on post tsunami impact on cultural institutions with focus on in-depth reflections on “awareness of preparedness for libraries, museums, and archives."

Andrew Robb from Library of Congress shared the lessons learned from 2005 Katrina and Rita Hurricanes in the United States, the short term recovery (emphasis on stabilization) and long term recovery (emphasis on rehabilitation) processes.   Kazuko Hioki, Conservation Librarian of University of Kentucky, talked about “strategies for disaster preparedness and recovery.”  The tsunami experience was of a scale beyond the trained understanding of disaster management standards.  Despite of the high awareness and standard of the disaster recovery plan in Japan, the process turned out to be inefficient.  It is reflecting to see how a private institution in Nara, became one of the major recovery centres which provided more efficient access to equipment such as freezer etc. with less red tapes.  Nevertheless, individual institutions struggled to proceed with recovery of historical documents by a few volunteers, while curators and librarians were not confident to make quick decisions and conservators are available but lack collaboration or strategy to organize professional conservation acts.  Similarly, it took six months for the Library of Congress to send people over to Japan for the recovery works.   It is a heart wrenching lesson which reminds us to rethink what makes our business continuity and disaster management plans work, or fail.

OCLC CJK Users Group (Non official meeting)

The User Group was chaired by Charlene Chou, Chair of CPT and attended by OCLC Senior Product Manager David Whitehair.  It is reported that non-English materials covered in WorldCat are at present 58.5%.  Recent major batch loading incorporated more than 4.5 million records from National Diet Library and CALIS.  Also batch loadings from Perpustakaan University (Malaysia), Nanyang Tech University (Singapore), Thammasat University (Thailand), Wasada University (Japan) had added another 200,000+ records to WorldCat.

The meeting also discussed the WorldShare platform, which enables sharing of infrastructure to manage and share resources across libraries and across communities.

When questioned about OCLC’s readiness for RDA, the ISNI in local systems not being accepted by OCLC, and OCLC’s progress on converting alif to apostrophes for Japanese and Korean records, it is agreed that will be brought back to OCLC for investigation.

Library Visits

In this trip, I had visited three libraries: the University of Toronto's Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, and the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library.

The Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library collection was seeded by a collection of about 40,000 volumes from the family of a scholar in Beijing brought back by Rev. William C White, an Anglican Bishop in 1933.  The collection was gradually moved to the University of Toronto in 1961 and later on into its current location which was renamed in 1991.

Besides collection services supporting studies of China (including Tibet and Mongolia), Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the Library also carries a wide range of special services.  These include EASIC, an internet courseware supporting the teaching and learning of East Asian studies, reference services in-person or via the Library’s blog and Twitter site, course-specific resource instructions Library newsletter, public lectures and exhibitions.  The library also works with faculty and external communities through practicum research projects, work-study programs and participates in exchange with academic institutions in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. The design and exhibitions held in the Library make it a unique meeting place to scholars or learners to network and discuss, as well as to uncover the depth of resources offered by the Library.

Fig.4 Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library – welcoming speech to CEAL visitors by Stephen Qiao

Attached to the south end of University of Toronto Robart Library complex is the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, The Rare Book collection was centrally housed and conserved.  The Library also collected a lot of artefacts with special themes.

Fig. 5 Rare Book stacks inside Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library    

The Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library is a comparatively new establishment formed in 2008.  The library features a unique research collection on Canada-Hong Kong studies and provides resources and space to accommodate the continuous growth of research interest in Hong Kong and its relation to Canada and other regions in the world.  When asked about the Library’s future development, Dr. Jack Leong, the Director of the Library stated that the Library is at a stage of collection building.  Disregarding the fact that most of the solicited gifts cannot be processed instantly, it is the library’s priority to get hold of unique materials brought to and preserved in Canada by earlier generation of Hong Kong immigrants at this stage.  The Library has a very limited collection budget and relies heavily on gift and donations from individual or institutional donors from Canada or overseas, as well as volunteers who collect free community  newspapers daily to create a unique research collection in the long term.

Besides collection and reference consultation services, the Library also acts as a community outreach centre and serves as an important link between the University and external community through cultural and educational events involving Hong Kong immigrants, Chinese community organizations and overseas institutions.  As for the future, the Library aims at further consolidating and organizing the collection, promoting and advocating for and facilitating the establishment of a Hong Kong Study Program.

Fig 6 RCL Canada-Hong Kong Library – Foyer displays

The H.H. Mu Far Eastern Library at Royal Ontario Museum was also opened for special tour by CEAL Librarians.  Librarians were treated to a brief tour of the facility and were enthralled by the fineness and variety of rare East Asian materials selected for display.

Fig. 7 Display of East Asian rare books for the CEAL Librarians’ visit at the H.H. Mu Far East Library, Royal Ontario Museum (photo contributed by Darrell Dorrington.)


Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference and Exhibitions

This year’s AAS Annual Conference ran from 15 March to 18 March. It incorporated a total of more than 380 panel discussions across a wide spectrum of Asian Studies related topics. I spent most of my time outside the CEAL meetings and AAS panels in the exhibition hall, where more than 90 publishers and vendors from North American, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau showcased their latest publication and products.  This was undertaken to stay abreast of topical interests appealing to scholars.

Unlike exhibitions in other conferences which focused on promotion and trading, I saw a lot of discussions on publishing and copyright between publishers and authors in the exhibition area.   This gave me a stronger sense of the cycle of research activities, publishing, and how libraries provide information services back to researchers. Area studies librarians, in addition to providing space and facilitating the use of information resources, are in general closely connected to academic activities.  Because of special knowledge of culture, protocols and networks, area studies librarians are in an excellent position to support special research information needs and provide broader support for the conduct of research and cultural activities, as also demonstrated by the CYT East Asian Library and RCL Canada-Hong Kong Library in the University of Toronto.          


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