International Area Studies Team discusses the globalization of Emory Libraries

One of the book fairs visited by Phil MacLeod.

When buying a book, the best practice is often to actually look at the book first…even if it means going half way around the world.

Last week, Emory Libraries’ International Area Studies Team presented at the InfoForum. Over the past year, members of this team travelled to Argentina, China, India, Japan, Mexico, and Spain on a worldwide tour to find the best materials possible for Emory’s collection of books.

InfoForum presenters were Ellen Ambrosone, Lawrence Hamblin, Phil MacLeod, and team leader Guo-Hua Wang.

This effort marked the first time the team was granted the opportunity to travel overseas to provide higher quality collections as part of their normal work practice. Attendees of presentations learned that this first-hand knowledge has dramatically improved the team’s exposure to the cultural and political environment of these countries.

When Phil MacLeod buys books, he often buys them by the pound. Phil bought and shipped over 600 pound of books for Emory this year during his travels to Argentina, Mexico and Spain. Almost like a buying fish from your local fishmonger, Phil arrives very early to get the best selections. By purchasing the books in their home countries, Phil saves Emory 100-200% for each book.

Book fair in New Delhi, India (photo by Ellen Ambrosone).

While Phil often sees dozens of his American colleagues at his book fairs, Ellen Ambrosone didn’t see any of her American colleagues at the book fair in New Delhi, India. A scholar of South Asian studies, Ellen focused on autobiographies and filling gaps in Emory’s South Asian collection. She developed a close relationship with a branch of the US Library of Congress that is housed in New Delhi. In addition to her time with the Library of Congress, Ellen visited several book vendors and a local library during her visit.

Cultural immersion was a key part of Lawrence Hamblin’s trip to Japan, where one conference center began each panel discussion with a pre-written announcement on earthquake safety. While attending various book fairs, Lawrence learned that Japan is rethinking libraries in terms of community development. Japan is suffering from disappearing cities because of the dual issues of low birth rate and an aging population. As Japanese cities become more compact, libraries may begin merging with schools. In smaller towns, the library is the center of local knowledge.

Guo-Hua Wang arrives at the Beijing Book Fair.

Guo-Hua Wang returned to China to purchase books, discuss publishing trends and our scholars’ needs with Chinese publishers and network with academic librarians in China. She attended the Beijing Book Fair, which was divided into the provinces that were in attendance. China is experiencing a local gazetteers movement to collect local histories and information. While in China, Guo-Hua was able to tour the Forbidden City and learn that its archives will be available to researchers by the Forbidden City Publisher, which has never happened before.

Guo-Hua also experienced the new developments in Chinese digital publishing and the world users’ experience of Chinese online databases that Emory subscribes to as well.

“The ability to immerse ourselves in the cultures of these countries is quite valuable,” said Guo-Hua. “We are grateful to Emory Libraries for funding these travels and thereby growing Emory’s global brand.”

If you would like to see and hear the presentations, go to:

The passcode is “infoforum”

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