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South Asian Studies Librarian and Korean Studies Librarian





Dear Paula,                                                                                          February 25, 2011


The area studies division is experiencing considerable personnel losses with the departure of the Middle Eastern Studies Librarian, 50% reduction of the Japanese Studies Librarian, no expertise in Korean studies, and the upcoming retirement of two more librarians in the Asian studies alone. Consequently, the ability of the Library to fully support collections and services in several critical areas of Asia will inevitably be compromised. If new hires are not forthcoming soon, the Library support of the strategic needs of the new International and Area Studies Library (IAS) will also be undermined. Moreover, the capability of the future IAS Library in providing improved services under the New Service Model to scholars and students in some areas studies on the Urbana campus will be further diminished.


In your annual hiring plan, you indicated that "it is not likely that we will be able to do much, if any, hiring, on State funds in FY12." In light of this scenario and the ongoing search for the Head of the IAS Library, I request that for FY12 or sooner the two positions that were already approved for area studies by the Provost's Office last year be supported in a visiting capacity to serve, without interruption, in two critical areas where the Library will be lacking.


The first area is South Asia. This is in anticipation of the retirement of the South Asian Studies Librarian in August 2011, which, combined with an unfilled staff position for nearly two years, will lead to total loss of service in the area.  Therefore, an immediate need to recruit a language and subject expert to continue support the teaching and research of the South Asian studies is imperative. An incumbent with multiple South Asian language skills and subject expertise will be essential for the successful management and service of South Asia-related collection development, reference, faculty liaison services, and cataloging.


The second area is Korea. The University Library has not funded a professional librarian to serve in the Korean studies, an area that is steadily growing on campus. A weekly Korean Workshop sponsored by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies is an important indication on how active the Korean program is. In fact, UIUC produces the largest number of Ph.D. dissertations on Korea outside of the theological disciplines in the US, and our students win numerous prestigious awards to study Korea. I consider this an important area and a great opportunity where an unmet need has long been in existence and it is time that we address that need. I have been fulfilling the needs of our Korean faculty and students on campus for years but that will end when I leave the office in August.


With China, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, and South Asia all playing increasingly important roles in world affairs and gaining close attention at campus international strategic plans, library support in these areas will be crucial to sustain area studies scholarship on campus. The Library will have an opportunity to review this visiting arrangement once the new Head of the IAS Library has been hired and the future hiring plan becomes more positive. I propose that the above two visiting positions be supported for one to two years or until the new head of the IAS Library has a chance to assess the needs of the new library while reshaping library services in international and area studies.



Thank you and EC for considering this request. If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact me at



Karen Wei

Head, Asian Library