National Central Library, Academia Sinica, and National Taiwan University Press collectively donated more than 700 books and audio-visual materials at the end of April 2020. These were outstanding publications on research in the humanities and social sciences from Taiwan and were donated to important scholarly institutions in the U.S.: the Harvard–Yenching Library, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Brown University Library’s East Asian Collection. Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the annual meeting for the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which has been held consecutively for 70 years, and related exhibitions were canceled this year. The annual meeting would have been held from March 19-22, 2020 in Boston.
National Central Library and two other participating institutions, in addition to the collaboration of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, contacted Harvard and the other institutions before the annual meeting to propose the donation—ensuring that the books which had already arrived in the U.S. would continue to make contributions to scholarly research. (The donation that NCL planned on displaying included 349 volumes in the humanities and social science fields on Taiwan studies and Chinese studies published in the last three years; if the donations from the other institutions are added in, it comes to a total of 700 books and audio-visual materials.) A special effort was made to contact these institutions before the annual meeting, so that scholarly exchange would not stop just because of the pandemic. Even though most schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are under lockdown, and the people of Massachusetts are under stay-at-home orders until May 4, the first donation will arrive at Harvard soon.
The receiving institution, the Harvard–Yenching Library, is an important repository of Chinese studies books in North America. It was established in 1928 and has over 4,000 ancient books that date back to the Qing dynasty. It is second only to the Library of Congress out of all of North America. The well-known Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies is hotbed for international scholarly exchange and for the development of outstanding researchers in modern and contemporary East Asian history. Brown University’s East Asian Library currently has nearly 200,000 books in East Asian languages, with 840 volumes in its Chinese special collections.
We were lucky to receive the strong support of Harvard, the Fairbank Center, and Brown in wanting to make this donation. While everyone was at home avoiding the pandemic, they were willing to receive these books. We were also lucky to have the help of the Director of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Boston Douglas Yu-Tien Hsu and others in getting in contact with these institutions. We believe that these important Chinese books, which reflect modern scholarly trends in Taiwan and which will be added to the collections of these institutions in the Eastern United States, will enable the international Chinese studies community to better understand the achievements of Chinese studies and current publications in Taiwan.The booklist of National Central Library’s intended exhibit at the 2020 AAS annual meeting