Japanese Studies librarian Lawrence Hamblin: A knack for finding obscure informational gems

Librarians at Emory can help students in a multitude of ways, and the subjects that they specialize in are often surprising. Lawrence Hamblin is Emory Libraries’ Japanese and Korean Studies librarian, and his East Asian expertise has enabled him to help faculty and students discover resources they would never have thought to look for.

Japanese and Korean Studies librarian Lawrence Hamblin holds one of his favorite Japanese books on the Woodruff Library shelves. Image: Emory Libraries.

Hamblin’s education has taken him around the world. He received a BA in biology from Amherst College in Massachusetts before flying to Shanxi province in China, where he taught English for a year. Following his return, he began working at Emory Libraries as an East Asian Studies library specialist and obtained his MLIS from Syracuse University.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Hamblin is fluent in Japanese, which he studied extensively while he attended Amherst. In addition, Hamblin says that he was able to learn Mandarin quickly while teaching in China because he could already understand the meanings of many Chinese characters due to his Japanese studies. He has also begun to learn Korean.

Anyone who has crossed paths with Hamblin will tell you that he has a knack for finding obscure informational gems. “Students often overlook the ways in which online catalogs can help them refine long lists of results and find resources that relate to their exact topic of interest,” he says. In the acknowledgements of his recent book “To Stand with the Nations of the World,” Emory history professor Mark Ravina notes that “Lawrence Hamblin got obscure books on the shelf faster than I could have hoped or imagined.”

Hamblin recalls an occasion when “a graduate student from Teikyo University in Tokyo showed up without warning,” and Hamblin was able to converse with her in Japanese to share information about the collection and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship with her, as well as how to get around the city using MARTA. It was the student’s first time in the United States. Hamblin says that “as my Japanese skills are most often spent on reading comprehension, it was refreshing to be able to use it in conversation, as I rarely have the opportunity to do so at work.”

Hamblin recommends that students and faculty make use of Emory’s databases for the three largest Japanese newspapers, accessible with a current Emory login: Asahi Shimbun (Kikuzo), Mainichi Shimbun (Maisaku), and Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomidas). According to Hamblin, these databases are more important than ever. Respectively, they have leftist, centrist, and center-right perspectives, which allows for a comparison of the coverage of news stories in Japan’s current nationalist climate to that of the late 1800s, when Japan was rapidly modernizing and encountering world powers.

Fast Facts:

  1. Hamblin is very skilled at cooking, especially when it comes to desserts. Strawberry cheesecake and oatmeal raisin cookies are his specialties.
  2. He regularly competes in fighting video game tournaments, primarily in the Atlanta area. His main games are Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Tekken 7.
  3. He had six wisdom teeth, and they were all removed in one 90-minute sitting.

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