A reception to celebrate the establishment of the W.K.W. Endowment Fund for the Chinese Studies Collection was held in the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University on December 19.
Opening remarks were given by James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, and Jim Cheng, Director of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. The founder of the endowment, who asked not to be named, delivered closing remarks. Though it can be disclosed that they are a Columbia University Visiting Scholar, the Founding Councilman of Peking University Entrepreneur Club, and Adviser to the Columbia University Asia-Pacific Development Society.
The W.K.W. Endowment Fund has an initial principal funding of $50,000 which will be used to acquire biographical materials related to historical figures in Chinese studies, including epitaphs, eulogies, genealogical materials, autobiographies, biographies, oral histories, and photographs, and to fund related events such as symposia, lectures, book talks, and exhibitions.
"This endowment is particularly significant as the Library's first fund established by an individual Chinese citizen through his personal wealth accumulated on the Chinese mainland," said Mr. Cheng. "This reinforces a unique support cycle, in which Chinese students and scholars will benefit from the enriched collection and may go on to become influential educators, scientists, diplomats, politicians and writers upon returning to China."
Columbia University's Chinese program and its world famous Chinese library collection began with a small gift in 1901 from Dean Lung, a modest man who signed his bequest 'Dean Lung, a Chinese person.' "He wanted to help integrate cultural knowledge from his homeland into the curriculum of educated Americans," said Madeleine Zelin, Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.
"Now we are in a new age. China has over the last twenty years undergone a complete renaissance in terms of scholarship and in terms of publishing, and our institution here at Columbia has been able to take part in that. We are increasingly able to access materials from China — good material, published collections of archival material, published collections of biographies, oral history — and the amount of material is almost overwhelming for us in its quantity, so this gift will enable us to keep up and to engage in public programs to make our material and our knowledge more available to a wide audience," she said in a speech following the opening remarks.
The Chinese collection at Columbia University was established in 1902 with the donation of the 5,044-volume Chinese imperial encyclopedia Gujin Tushu Jicheng (completed in 1725, of which about 60 copies were made) on behalf of the Empress Dowager Cixi, and today includes more than 450,000 volumes, 7,800 serials, 4.7 million e-books, and other unique and non-print materials such as oracle bones, paper god prints, local gazetteers, genealogy records, and DVDs. The collection is particularly strong in regards to history, philosophy, traditional literature, and increasingly film studies, and is ranked among the largest and most prominent Chinese Studies collections in North America.
Detailed information about the Starr Library is available on its website at http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/eastasian/
(Reporting from New York City)