In an effort to deepen ties with Taiwan and Chinese studies institutes in Europe, National Central Library Director-General Tseng Shu-hsien was invited to Germany to present a paper at the conference “Sinology–Chinese/China Studies–Guoxue: Their Interrelation, Methodologies, and Impact” on October 21, 2019. The conference cohosted by the Monumenta Serica Institute, Sankt Augustin and the Monumenta Serica Sinological Research Center. Later that afternoon, the group toured one of best public libraries in the world—the Cologne Public Library.
The conference was held at Siegburg, which is located in between the two large cities of Cologne and Bonn. The 15 scholars who presented came primarily from Taiwan, the U.S., Germany, Hong Kong, and China. Director-General Tseng was invited to speak on “Exploration of the Establishment of the Research Platform for Digital Humanities and Its Services—Taking the ‘Universal Type Digital Humanities Research Platform on Chinese Ancient Books’ Established by the NCL as an Example.” In her paper she gave an overview of recent developments in the digital humanities in Taiwan, as well as the creation of related research tools. Furthermore, she provided deep-level analysis of the relationship between libraries and the digital humanities, discussing libraries’ role in research on the digital humanities, as well as an overview of efforts to promote the digital humanities by national libraries across the globe. She went into specific detail about the Universal Type Digital Humanities Research Platform on Ancient Chinese Books (http://ming.ncl.edu.tw) that was cocreated by NCL and National Chengchi University. She also gave an accounting of how NCL in recent years has actively explored the role of ancient books in the digital age and the achievements in innovative digital application of ancient books. Director-General Tseng’s presentation resonated with many in attendance. Scholars from Germany, Beijing, and Sweden all were eager to share their thoughts, complementing and affirming NCL’s efforts in creating digital humanities and sharing their achievements. There was a good deal of energy in the room during her presentation.
After the meeting, Director-General Tseng and those with her went with the head of Monumenta Serica Sinological Research Center Dr. Wojciech Rybka, S.V.D. to tour the main branch of the Cologne Public Library which was nearby. The head librarian Hannelore Vogt extended them a very warm welcome. In 2013, her library was the first to offer Makerspace, providing devices and the technical know-how. This effectively flipped the way libraries provided services, attracting patrons to come to the library to read, experiment, discuss, explore, create, and share. Dr. Vogt, who has been to Taiwan on several occasions and who has spoken at NCL, not only gave a guided tour of the library facilities and services but also exchanged ideas with Director-General Tseng on readers services, administrative mechanism, Mint library science innovative service branding, and reading promotion. All of these will be important reference points for Taiwan libraries to benchmark in the future.