East Asian Studies Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Dawn Lawson, East Asian Studies Librarian


Bobst Library's East Asian Collection supports faculty research and the curricula in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Gallatin School, the School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Education, the Stern School of Business, the Tisch School of the Arts, and the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. The collection's primary focus centers on the work of the Department of East Asian Studies. However, because of the department's commitment to an interdisciplinary examination of East Asia and because of widespread academic interest in the region throughout the university community, the collection also supports research and curricula ranging across numerous departments, including but not limited to Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Comparative Literature, Fine Arts, History, Religious Studies, and Sociology.

On the undergraduate level the Department of East Asian Studies offers a humanities major and a humanities minor. On the graduate level, the department offers both doctoral and master's degrees in East Asian Culture. Many other departments grant master's and doctoral degrees in East Asian subjects.


  1. Languages

    Materials are primarily collected in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and selectively in French, German, Russian, Spanish, and other languages.

  2. Geographical Areas

    Areas collected intensively include all of China, Japan, and Korea. Materials concerning Vietnam are collected selectively.

  3. Chronological Periods

    Major emphasis is on the modern period in the areas of literature, history (including political and social history), cinema studies, women's studies, gender studies, language and linguistics, religion, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and urban studies. For the premodern period, basic materials in the areas of literature, language, history, religion, and philosophy are also collected.

Types of Materials

  1. Included

    Monographs, monographic series, serials, newspapers, proceedings, facsimiles, reprints, microforms, audio-visual and electronic media (including electronic texts). Dissertations, exhibition catalogs, government documents, pamphlets, and textbooks are acquired selectively.

  2. Excluded

    Ephemera, maps, manuscripts.

Background of the Collection

The East Asian Studies collection at Bobst reflects the history of East Asian Studies at NYU, which is not long. A very limited East Asian Studies program came into existence in the 1980s. The department has existed only since the late 1990s, and the first graduate degree candidates were admitted in fall 2004.

For the majority of East Asian Studies-related material in Western languages, approval plans function fairly well, but at this time such plans are not available for materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Orders are based on faculty recommendations, vendor and publishers' catalogs, bibliographies, and review media. Print journals are acquired selectively, principally through faculty request.

Retrospective collection of materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean is difficult because they go out of print very quickly. Used materials are available from Japan and from China to a limited extent, but, in all three countries, particularly in Korea, there does not yet exist a strong networked used book market able to sell to overseas libraries. We have had some success with retrospective collection by acquiring duplicates offered for sale by other U.S. academic libraries.

The acquisition of contemporary print materials and electronic materials has not been as problematic. We have collected major databases of articles and/or article indexes in all three languages, both on our own and by participating in the various consortia formed by other North American East Asian libraries.

Other Resources

New York City is an active center of East Asian scholarship. Columbia University's C.V. Starr East Asian Library holds nearly 750,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Mongol, Manchu, and Western-language materials and over 5,000 periodical titles. The New York Public Library holds several hundred thousand volumes of material in East Asian languages.

In addition to the availability of materials via the usual interlibrary loan mechanisms, the NYU is enrolled in the Global ILL Framework, an initiative of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources, which enables US libraries to do ILL with Japanese libraries, even when the latter are not members of OCLC or RLIN.

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