Archive of discussion on the PMJS mailing list (February, 2000).

library resources for research needs

Question raised by Stephen D. Miller

Discussants: Janine Beichman, Robert Borgen, Hank Glassman, Laura Kaufman, William Bodiford, Laurel Rodd, Maureen Donovan

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From: Stephen D. Miller
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 09:42:19 -0700
Subject: looking for input

The North American Coordinating Council of Japanese Library Resources (NCC) is holding a two-day conference next week in San Diego to discuss its/their future. The title of the conference is "Japanese Library Resource Sharing in the Next Decade: Collection Building, Technological Innovation, and International Cooperation." Part of the conference has been set aside for presentations from scholars to discuss their research needs and their expectations of
libraries for meeting those needs. As a stand-in for someone else who couldn't make it, I will be talking about this issue in terms of pre-modern Japanese literature and, to a certain extent, Buddhist studies. I am looking for input from the academic community at large to help me articulate our needs to the NCC. If you have any thoughts about this--random or otherwise--I would be very grateful for your help. Below I have quoted Kristina Troost of Duke University who is the current chair of the NCC about what it is they are looking for in these presentations:

The questions we have asked everyone to address focus on research needs now and in the future and the roles of libraries in meeting them. We are hoping that the panelists will address such questions as how their research needs will be met by the end of the decade and what sort of role the library will play; what sorts of resources do they think they will want, and we think that they will want to preface their remarks with what sorts of materials they use now, and how they obtain them.

I don't know whether this is the sort of thing that would make for an interesting list discussion or not, but if you feel that you'd rather not make it one, please send me an e-mail directly to

Thank you all in advance for your help.

Stephen Miller
University of Colorado

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 08:16:28 +0900
Subject: looking for input

Stephen, in answer to your wondering if you should post it: I at least think it makes for an interesting discussion and look forward to whatever people post. Janine

From: Stephen D. Miller
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 19:02:46 -0700
Subject: looking for input

Janine and others,
Since Janine has requested I post some responses, here are a few that have come in so far. Perhaps if there are others who are interested in this and intend to respond to me in the next couple of days, you could respond to the list at large. In the meantime, I've taken the liberty to edit a little here since some had personal messages enclosed as well. This may too much to read at one sitting, but this will give everyone a good idea of some of the areas people have addressed. Thanks again for your help.

From Bob Borgen at the U. of Hawaii:

Second, it seems to me that the real problem is journals, or to be more precise, obscure journals. As we all know, in Japan lots of quality scholarship gets published in the local rag. Inaka Tandai Kaseigakubu Kiyo can turn out to have a fine essay on say, Ono no Komachi, because all the students there are women, and women (as we all know) study literature, so even the Kaseigakubu has its professor of National Literature, who turns out to be a talented Todai graduate who couldn't get a better job, because she isn't a he, but at the Kaseigakubu that is at least acceptable, if not necessarily desirable, and once she's there they turn on the screws to get her to publish something to fill up their annual journal, which normally focuses on santitation tips for the kitchen, but will publish anything, even a study of Ono no Komachi, that the girls might find interesting, assuming they can read. Needless to say, not too many American universities get copies of Inaka Tandai Kaseigakubu Kiyo.

As I recall, not too long ago, someone published a book showing with US libraries hold with Japanese journals. Information like that should be on-line (or is it already), and perhaps libraries could divvy up the responsibility for collecting obscure journals. Obviously these are not the types of periods that all libraries need. Rather, if one library is assigned, say, Tohoku, it could try to keep up on Inaka Tandai's publications, post its holdings on the website, and make photocopies available.

There are probably other categories of publication that might benefit from this approach--pulp fiction and the like--but for me it's the journals that are the problem.

From Hank Glassman at Stanford:

It's a few issues, really, and these concern the use and storage of visual materials. On Friday, I got an email asking me where I found an image I sent an editor eight years ago for inclusion in my paper in a conference volume. She needs to get the permission form the publisher. Could I find the record? I know the date, the location, the deity, but what book was the photograph in? You get the picture. It would be wonderful if libraries could store large collections of images of paintings, sculptures, photographs, objects, etc. and scholars could use these 1) in classes and course-related websites and 2) at conferences and in published work. I realize that the copyright issues are different in these two cases and are complicated, but since neither context is, in the strict sense, a
commercial one, the stakes should not be too high. If the library or
library service could retain the rights, then a consortium of universities could foot the bill and the rest of us could just use the images in our teaching and our scholarship. Also, each image would carry a tag with its name, provenance, artist, date, location, and possibly even the photographer's name. This could also protect the owner of the image by labelling it in every context. The web is the obvious place for the warehousing of a database like this, or it could be on CD. In Buddhist studies, there is the Huntington Site ( ), but I don't really understand the copyright status of the images there and it would be great to have something thematically broader and more specific to Japan. Obviosly, not just images of art, but maps, historical photographs, artifacts, costumes, etc. should be included.

From Laura Kaufman at Manhattanville College:

1. Access to good bibliographies of current Japanese-language scholarly books and periodicals in my field

2. Assistance with using email and web resources for bibliographic search in Japanese language sources

3. Access to and assistance with any electronic sources for summaries or actual text copy of Japanese language periodicals

From William Bodiford at UCLA:

The main thing that I would like to tell librarians is that Buddhist scholars need access to a wide variety of journals published in Europe, India, China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in a wide variety of languages. We need to be able to search the table of contents of these journals and to down load the articles. We need everything to be in unicode and we need to be able to search for items across languages. For example, we want to be able to search for "confucian analects" whether the term is "lunyu" in Chinese, "rongo" in Japanese or Korean, or French, or English, or Spanish, etc. We want to be able to search for items regardless of whether they are written in traditional characters or simplified ones.

Right now librarians have developed tools that are useful only for people who work in just one area or just in one language. As a result, they are not useful for Buddhist Studies. We routinely deal with many different parts of the world and many different languages.

We also need to be able to search regardless of whether the original title uses diacritic marks or not. I believe libraries have standards that describe how they enter information into their own databases with standardized spellings that omit accents, but it is very difficult for scholars to find out information about those standards. Library websites should always include links to this kind of information. Links to Library of Congress Subject Headings and to Library of Congress rules for romanization and word division of Asian languages also would be useful.

From Laurel Rodd, University of Colorado:

Although electronic texts are becoming more available--and sometimes may be useful (I like the idea of them, but haven't managed to use them myself, but I have students who have done so), they don't provide one with 1) commentary, 2) a text one can take notes on, 3) a text one can carry around to work on, 4) the pleasures of a book. Still, if it's the only way you can view an original msc, I guess it can be better than nothing. I really can't see myself downloading an e-book and reading it on a little reader. I'm not a linear reader--I like to skim, to jump back and forth, to flip pages and preview or review. E-books are hardly a substitute for a book

The ability to get ILL from Japan (Bravo, Waseda!!) is the breakthrough of the century. Michael Staley, for ex, was able to get a copy of the Tanizaki text he's working on from Waseda in less than two weeks--for free--and he couldn't be doing his research at all otherwise.

I like the requirement that US libraries be encouraged to offer ILL for all materials in their collections, certainly for those they are able to purchase with NCC or other outside assistance. Libraries have to take the view that they support users (not just local users).

Even so, though, there's something about HAVING the books in a library where you can go and browse that's critical to encouraging students to fall in love with texts, to stimulating the asking of research questions, and to getting the research done. In an ideal world every library would have everything.

From: Robert Borgen
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 21:00:11 -0800
Subject: looking for input

To whom it may concern:

Stephen Miller, of UCLA, has quoted a certain "Bob Borgen," said to be at the University of Hawaii. I realize the Prof. Miller is a classicist, but even us classicists must attempt to be at least bit au courant in the field of Professional Gossip. According to reliable sources, said "Borgen" has been a University of California, Davis, for over ten years now. Although in moments of unaccustomed candor, he has been known express fond memories of former colleagues in the Mid-Pacific, those who seek him out today would have a better chance of finding him in Mid-California.

Robert Borgen

From: Janine Beichman
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 14:19:37 +0900
Subject: looking for input

Stephen, thank you so much for posting those answers --just as eyeopening as I thought it would be. (I'm deleting from my reply so as not to clog things up.)

From: Stephen D. Miller
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 22:49:10 -0700
Subject: looking for input

My apologies to the University of Hawaii, the University of California, the citizenry of California and Hawaii, the membership of the AAS, the PMJS, men and women on the east coast, men and women on the west coast, and most of all, to Bobert Borgene of Inaka Tandai.

Your insight into the geographical location of classicists (living and dead) has been of assistance to us all. By the way, Bobert, do you know where "Bob" the Rob Borgen went after he left the University of Hawaii? We've all been trying to track him down.
Properly humbled and forever confused,

Stephen (duh, what decade is this?) Miller

From: Maureen Donovan
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 12:20:43 -0500
Subject: RE: looking for input

As I recall, not too long ago, someone published a book showing with US libraries hold with Japanese journals. Information like that should be on-line (or is it already), and perhaps libraries could divvy up the responsibility for collecting obscure journals. Obviously these are not the types of periods that all libraries need. Rather, if one library is assigned, say, Tohoku, it could try to keep up on Inaka Tandai's publications, post its holdings on the website, and make photocopies available.

Citation for the book mentioned is:
National Union List of Current Japanese Serials in East Asian Libraries of North America, compiled by Yasuko Makino and Mihoko Miki with the assistance of Isamu Miura and Kenji Niki, Association for Asian Studies Committee on East Asian Libraries Subcommittee on Japanese Materials, 1992.

In 1997 a project to create an online version, The Union List of Japanese Serials and Newspapers, was initiated as part of the Japan Journal Access Project of the North American Coordinating Committee on Japanese Library Resources (NCC), the American Association of Universities (AAU) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL):

I am directing the project. In addition to funding from NCC, the early phase of the project was funded by Honda R&D Americas, Inc. By early 1999 almost 6,000 titles held by 25 universities had been entered into the database. Just recently NCC decided to continue support of the project, by providing funding for completing the input (along with updates/revisions) of information from the 1992 printed union list. That work will begin in March.

At this point the future development of the online union list is still being discussed. Input from users would be greatly appreciated. Mary Jackson (ARL) and I wrote a position paper for discussion at the upcoming San Diego meeting which outlines how the union list fits in with larger issues, including the kind of cooperative/coordinated collection development that Robert Borgen advocates. That paper is online at:

I urge you to send comments.

In closing I want to mention how grateful I am for Professor Borgen's comments, which show a sophisticated understanding of the situation facing libraries with regard to Japanese journals. One hope is that institutions of the Inaka Tandai type will increasingly publish their kiyo on the WWW. Some already have adopted that approach and we are including links to such web sites in the online union list. If anyone is aware of titles that we haven't linked to yet, please let me know.

Maureen H. Donovan
Associate Professor / Japanese Studies Librarian, Ohio State University,
328 Main Library, 1858 Neil Ave Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1286 USA
Ohio State's Japanese Collection:
East Asian Libraries Coop WWW homepage:

page edited 2001/01/27

Other topics discussed on pmjs in February, 2000.

  • DIJ talk by David Lurie on "The Birth of Written Japanese"
  • Heike biwa concerts in Europe
  • ALJS call for papers (Nov. 2000)
  • "Extreme kakekotoba" discussion [continued, see archive]
  • mokkan; Zhong Kui/Shouki; "Kyuu kyuu nyo ritsuryo" invocation
  • Reading and Writing Japanese Women's Texts (conference)
  • Hiragino fonts for Mac OS X
  • new profiles
  • A near complete log of messages for the month can be seen here:
    A password is required for access. Contact editor for details.