What is IASC21?

In the fall of 2012 Columbia, Duke and Yale Universities sponsored a workshop in New Haven, CT which for the first time brought together librarians and mid-level administrators responsible for the oversight and coordination of area studies collections and staff at their respective home universities.  Dubbed “International and Area Studies Collections in the 21st Century” (IASC21), the new group began to cooperatively identify and address mutual concerns such as training, recruitment, digital content and finances. A year later in 2013, and after enlisting more participants, the group came together again (attendance was both physical and virtual) in Bloomington, IN to continue identifying shared needs and objectives, including those related to communication.  A third meeting in Austin in 2014  and a fourth in Champaign in 2016 allowed the group to continue to coalesce, grow and challenge.

Other highly-publicized discussions about the state of area studies in the academy and in libraries have taken place recently–most notably the Duke Forum on “Global Dimensions of Scholarship” and two conferences (one in 2013 and one in 2014) related to changes within and challenges to Title VI–discussions geared towards and engaged in by high-level administrators (notably library and/or National Resource Center directors).  However, in practice it is the individuals within the IASC21 group that both provide the context and content for those discussions and ultimately IASC21 will be the group that actually scrutinizes and implements any changes resulting from those discussions.  As such, the IASC21 group is essential to the successful realization of the current transformations we hope to engender in area studies librarianship.