Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Library

One of key distinctions of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is the HNC Library, which was founded in 1986 at the establishment of Hopkins-Nanjing Center. In addition to being a pillar of the HNC’s commitment to free and open academic exchange, the library is considered one of China’s top collections on international affairs. The bilingual holdings support Chinese and international student and faculty research at the HNC.

 William Speidel, the first director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s Washington Office, remembers that “We started with about 200 journals on each side…half Chinese and half English. And even through the great difficulties of 1989, the journals were permitted to keep coming in.” The library now houses more than 120,000 volumes in Chinese and English, 400 periodicals and the full electronic resources of Nanjing University and Johns Hopkins SAIS. Sheila Thalhimer, the librarian at Johns Hopkins SAIS who oversees the library’s procurement of English language materials, notes that USAID funding through ASHA grants is “a major factor in maintaining [the library’s] excellence.”

The HNC library resources initially were focused on US-China relations and international affairs, but now they have expanded to include US history, international law, international development, and energy, resources, and the environment. The HNC library is an essential resource for HNC Master of International Studies (MAIS) students, who complete theses in their target language in their final year. In addition to the HNC collection, students are able to request volumes needed for research through the Johns Hopkins SAIS Library. Chinese and international students write their theses on diverse topics, recently including homosexuality in rural China, Chinese house churches, democracy in Asia, cross-strait relations, and women’s rights. Copies of these theses are kept in the HNC library.

The HNC library collection includes 30 years of alumni and faculty books 
The HNC’s extensive open stacks reflect the longstanding commitment to freedom of academic inquiry. Jan Kiely, HNC American Co-Director from 2007-2010, reflects back to how the HNC persevered through tensions in US-China relations, “There were a lot of politically charged issues in my time—the running of the torch, the Tibetan riots, the situation in Xinjiang…Sometimes there were issues that produced a degree of tensions. But that, to me, always presented the most important moment to seize: if there are different viewpoints, let’s talk about it! Let’s think about these things!” Daniel Wright, who was Director of the Washington Office during the SARS crisis, echoes the same resilient sentiment: “The Center is at its best when it’s under pressure.” Regardless of constraints beyond the HNC’s walls, the library provides students and HNC community members the resources to research, discuss, and improve understanding of the issues at the heart of China’s future in the global community.