New IASC21 Issue Briefs Series

April 24th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

New IASC21 Issue Briefs Series
Pamela Graham, Columbia University


This Issue Brief Series is an outcome of the meetings and discussions that have been taking place since 2012 among managers and directors of international and area studies collections in U.S. academic libraries.  A collective of interested individuals, going by the name of International and Area Studies Collections in the 21st Century (IASC21), first convened at Yale in the fall of 2012 at a small working conference sponsored by the libraries of Yale, Columbia and Duke.

The impetus for the 2012 IASC21 meeting was the lack of a forum to bring together individuals who manage and direct area studies programs within research libraries coupled with an awareness of the value of building such a community as we confront common challenges and transformative forces. We have a strong tradition of professional library organizations dedicated to functional work areas (see for example the ALA committees on reference, cataloging, and so on) and to major regions of collecting interest (e.g. Council on East Asian Libraries, CONSALD, SALALM etc.). Similarly, the Center for Research Libraries has supported and hosted several preservation projects focused on world regions (a.k.a. the “AMPs” or Area Microform Projects). Within each region, these projects have achieved an impressive record of work but opportunities to share information across projects have been limited.  In sum, then, despite sharing common needs, goals, and interests, we hitherto had lacked bridges across these groups and a means of sharing and exchanging best practices and success stories.

In 2012, the IASC21 participants identified issues and challenges as well as strengths and potentials related to our international and world area collecting programs. Two points were especially clear: first, we needed a forum for discussion and action within our own community; and second, we needed to foster and sustain better and more meaningful communication about area studies collections and services, to engage the widest possible audience.

Since 2012, a number of meetings of area and international studies librarians have been convened (the Forum on Global Dimensions of Scholarship at Duke and the Area Studies Librarianship Workshop at Indiana University), adding momentum and deepening the networks among interested individuals. Building upon these confluences, IASC21 participants continue the grassroots development of our professional community and pursue avenues to collectively address our common needs.

This series of issue briefs is designed to focus on specific challenges relating to international and area studies collections and librarianship, highlighting opportunities and innovative approaches that may have broader applicability across the community. “Briefs” are designed to be brief: they concisely state the specific challenge or issue, summarize the approach taken, and summarize outcomes, including lessons learned and best practices. Where appropriate, we provide pointers to more information for those who wish to delve deeper.

The briefs aim to generate open conversation and cross-talk. We seek to open lines of communication not only between established area studies library groups but between area studies librarianship and larger communities of interest. We invite many voices into this conversation, both through posting comments and through the contribution of Issue Briefs from a variety of sources. We also welcome briefs that propose solutions and approaches in the planning or brainstorming phases.

In the spirit of collaboration and open communication, we welcome your feedback on current Issue Briefs and solicit your suggestions for future Briefs.  Please contact us!
Pamela Graham, Columbia University
Mary Rader, University of Texas at Austin
James Simon, Center for Research Libraries

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