New East Asian Library Opens to Public

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The C.V. Starr East Asian Library opened to the public yesterday, allowing visitors and students access to the second-largest university collection of East Asian art and texts in the nation.

The library unites UC Berkeley's East Asian collection, housing texts and manuscripts in Chinese, Japanese and Korean primarily, along with a small number of items in Mongolian and Tibetan, said Deborah Rudolph, who works in editorial and administrative services at the library.

It is also the first free-standing structure built for an East Asian library in the country, said Peter Zhou, director of the library.

Joseph Li, a doctoral student, said he had difficulty finding East Asian books before and was glad that they had all been collected in one place.

"I have been looking forward to studying in this place for a long time," Li said.

Berkeley's East Asian collection was started in 1896 and has grown rapidly since then.

In 1952, the library moved to 208 Durant Hall, but by the 1960s it had outgrown this space. It is now the second largest collection of its kind among U.S. universities after Harvard University's, Zhou said.

Prior to the opening of the current library, the collection was stored in parts in various locations, including Doe Memorial Library and the Valley Life Sciences Building, Rudolph said.

Zhou mentioned that even students who do not speak the languages prominently featured in the library have something to gain from visiting, noting the quality of the study areas.

He added that it was important, in the current age of globalization, for UC Berkeley students to have exposure to East Asian cultures.

"It's great to hear that Berkeley also has a non-European collection," said junior Nancy Hsu.

-Valerie Woolard


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