NCL and the Collège de France formally opened the new Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies in Paris on May 31, 2023. The ceremony was directed by NCL Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng and Collège de France Administrator Thomas Römer. Representative Wu Chih-chung from the Bureau de Représentation de Taipei en France and Director of the Education Section Mei-chen Lu, the renowned sinologists Professor Pierre-Etienne Will and Professor Frantz Grenet, as well as Collège de France’s Director of Documentary Networks and Partnerships Anne Chatellier, and Chinese Studies Librarian Delphine Spicq were all invited to attend the ceremony. NCL began establishing TRCCSs in 2012. The Collège de France marks its 37th partnering institution. Currently, a total of 45 institutions have signed contracts with NCL.
Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng stated the Collège de France is an institution of higher learning and research located in Paris, France. It was established during the 16th century, and from then until now it still insists on academic freedom, independent thinking, and the pursuit of equality in education. NCL, which also believes in openness and in creating a free academic environment, has for the last thirty years received many teachers and researchers from the Collège de France and given them grants to research various topics in sinology. Our two institutions have enjoyed many close interactions. Because of this, she visited Europe in 2012 with a group of librarians to attend the European Association for Chinese Studies’ biennial conference. During that time, she made a point to visit the Collège de France and was impressed with its vast Chinese studies collection comprised of 250,000 books (including ancient works) and 1,300 journals. Indeed, it has the most local gazetteers from China of any library in Europe. Therefore, in 2021 during the worst of the pandemic, both parties overcame many obstacles to continue working toward the establishment of a Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies. After it was set up, a Taiwan Lecture on Chinese Studies was also held along with a conference. The interaction between scholars was something to behold. There was even more exchange than normal happening in other international Chinese studies events. Consequently, when NCL visited Europe this time, special plans were made to have a signage unveiling ceremony at the Collège and officially launch its TRCCS.
As a show of NCLs investment in the new center and in hopes for its success, two national treasures found in its collections were replicated and presented to the library. These two are The Annotated Poetry of Su Dongpo (1213) and The Diamond Sutra (1341). The first one is an exquisite specimen of printing and is one of the extant copies closest to Su Dongpo’s own time. After this book was published, it wasn’t seen in bookshops during the subsequent two dynasties (the Yuan and Ming). It wasn’t until the latter part of the Qing dynasty that Fanggang Weng obtained the book and found it to be more valuable than any of his other books. So he changed his studio name to Baosu shi (The Room that Treasures Su Dongpo), hung a portrait of Su Dongpo up in it, and invited scholar friends each year on the 19th day of the 12th lunar month (Su’s birthday) to come and read the poems together. Consequently, many famous scholars wrote short comments in the work or affixed their seals. Around 1900, the book was transferred to a Mr. Siliang Yuan in Hunan. His residence later caught fire and his book collection succumbed to the flames. As luck would have it, a family member saved this book, with only the edges of the bamboo strips being singed. This only strengthened the saying that the gods and spirits were protecting this book. The copy of the Diamond Sutra printed by the Zifu Temple was a very rare first edition of dual-color printing. As such, this work has a very important place in the history of printing. During its transmission, it became imbued with a rich sense of legend. Presenting replica copies of these works can not only enrich the Collège de France’s holdings but also serve as witnesses of the historic collaboration that is beginning between the two libraries. This is the beginning of much more collaboration to come.