East Asian Languages and Literatures majors will soon have a newly renovated space in which to study, attend classes and do research.
The East Asian Studies Library — which will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2007 — is entering the second phase of an ongoing renovation that was funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Council on East Asian Studies, said anthropology department chair William Kelly, a member of the council’s Executive Committee. The construction, which began this August after a semester of planning, should be completed around the Chinese New Year in late January, Kelly said. He said it will give several hundred students and over 40 faculty in nine departments a more hospitable place to call home.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”14847″ ]
“The problem has been that the reading room, the reference facilities and the collections haven’t really had the kind of facilities that attract students and faculty to use them at Sterling over the years,” Kelly said.
Ellen Hammond, the curator of the East Asian Library collection, said the renovated library, which will still be located on the second floor of Sterling Memorial Library, will hold reference and periodical collections, a study space and two teaching rooms. Hammond said she thinks it will be helpful for East Asian studies students to have a central place on campus where they have access to needed resources, including a knowledgeable library staff.
“As a curator, it’s exciting for me that my staff will be more integrated into the course of study because they’ll be right there when they’re needed,” she said.
While Yale’s East Asian Studies library is housed within the University’s main stacks, Kelly said the libraries at many of Yale’s peer institutions are housed in their own buildings. He said that although there has been some debate about the library’s location in the past, Yale administrators have repeatedly decided to keep the library in its current home.
Both undergraduate and graduate students were polled last semester about the types of facilities they thought were most important for the renovated library in order to make the final product as useful to them as possible, Kelly said.
Hammond said much of the decoration and furniture in the library will feature Chinese, Japanese and Korean stylistic elements, and a work of calligraphy has been commissioned for the library’s entrance. The seminar room will be named after Kan’ichi Asakawa, the first curator of the East Asian Collection at Yale, she said.
Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki said this project is small in comparison to the current large-scale Cross Campus Library renovations, but it is an opportunity to make the facility more conducive to studying and instruction.
“It will give it a more inviting feel and will be a more effective use of space,” she said.
East Asian Languages and Literatures major Spencer Sherwin ’08 said he does not think undergraduate majors will see enormous benefit from having a common space, because the major is small and students already have a great deal of contact in classes.
“Honestly, I don’t see it really doing all that much,” he said. “I feel like a lot of people in the major just know each other and interact with each other.”
Still, he said, new facilities and better access to expert librarians will be helpful when he is writing his senior essay next year, and a better space will undoubtedly be appreciated by students in the major.
Kelly said East Asian Studies is one of the largest fields of study at the University and therefore requires a space to house its resources and cater to the specific needs of its users.
“It’s important to have a place in the library that has the most recent magazines and newspapers for the area … and that also has computer workstations that can handle East Asian languages,” Kelly said.
According to 2005 data, Yale has the fourth-largest East Asian resources collection among American universities, behind Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University. Yale owns over 710,000 volumes in the field.