National Central Library and the British Library held an MOU Online Signing Ceremony on the afternoon of January 13, 2022 (the morning of the 13th London time). It was signed by NCL Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng and the British Library Chief Executive Roly Keating. The British Library Chief Librarian Liz Jolly and others participated via video conferencing. The British Office in Taipei Representative John Dennis, Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom Kelly Hsieh were also invited to attend and celebrate this new milestone in the cultural exchange and collaboration between England and Taiwan.
The British Library is the national library of England and is one of the largest libraries in the world, with a replete and variegated collection. It has over 200 million items spanning more than 400 languages. Each year their collection increases by 3 million items, including books, magazines, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, newspapers, patents, stamps, illustrations, audio files. World-renowned, it has been lauded as the world’s dream library. Its Dunhuang Collection is particularly something that garners worldwide attention.
The British Library Chief Executive Keating extended a warm welcome to those in attendance and stated that signing this memorandum has important significance to both libraries, and he is filled with great anticipation in embarking on this new collaborative endeavor. NCL Director-General Tseng stated that being able to sign a relatively comprehensive collaborative agreement with a top library in the world signifies that Taiwan’s soft power is being noticed. She stressed that NCL collaborated with the British Library in 2013 and 2015, and many years of additional effort has resulted in this MOU. The content of this three-year agreement is both broad and deep, including digitizing Chinese holdings in the British Library, collaborating on research, jointly hosting an exhibition, and maintaining a forum or workshop. As for deepening the scholarly exchange between the two libraries, doing joint research, sharing research resources, and building a platform for scholarly research between the two countries, this project will be a great benefit.
Representative Kelly Hsieh said during the video conference that he was honored to witness the birth of a new collaborative partnership between Taiwan and England. It is hoped that through both libraries signing this MOU, it can strengthen links in the international scholarly web and increase Taiwan’s international scholarly reputation and visibility. The British representative to Taiwan John Dennis mentioned how much he admires NCL’s rich collection of ancient Chinese books. He can’t wait to see the results of this collaboration between the two libraries. He believes that NCL and the British Library can have an amazing collaborative experience and is happy to see NCL sidestep the restrictions brought on by the pandemic and through web services sign an MOU with Great Britain, thus deepening and solidifying the great collaborative relationship and scholarly exchange between the two libraries.
As the pandemic spreads, even though physical events and interactions have been restricted, this ceremony to sign the MOU was done via video conferencing technology. This signing is similar to building a new bridge, taking Taiwan’s scholarly research achievements to the world. It will also play a critical role in the platform of the scholarly exchange between Taiwan and England. It is believed that additional opportunities for collaboration will be built on the foundation of this MOU.