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Wason Collection on East Asia Celebrates 90th Anniversary

ITHACA, N.Y. (Nov. 3, 2008) – Cornell University Library will highlight one of its most prized collections during a conference held Nov. 7-9 in Ithaca, N.Y.

Cornell University Library, the Cornell East Asia Program, and the Association of Chinese Professors of Social Sciences in the United States (ACPSS) are co-sponsoring the 14th ACPSS international conference, which will be held in conjunction with the 90th Jubilee of Cornell's Wason Collection on East Asia. The conference's theme is “East Asia Studies: Challenges of Complex Realities in an Era of Globalization and Digitization.”

After registration and a welcome reception at Kroch Asia Library on Friday, Nov. 7, Cornell University President David Skorton will open the conference at the ILR Conference Center on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 8. University Librarian Anne R. Kenney, East Asia Program Director Ding Xiang Warner and ACPSS President Jieli Li will deliver welcoming remarks.

Keynote speeches include a historical review of the relationship between globalization and Chinese consumer culture by Hu Shih Professor Sherman Cochran of Cornell University and a sociological analysis of problems with community-building in mainland China by Professor Zhang Hangsheng of the People’s University of China, who also serves as the current president of the Chinese Sociological Society. The conference will feature 17 panels covering a variety of topics across social, cultural, economic and political landscapes of East Asia.

“As the state’s land-grant university, Cornell has a special responsibility to perform a role of outreach and public service to the citizens of New York State,” Skorton said. “We also consider ourselves the land-grant university to the world and focus today on East Asia.” Scholars and librarians from across the United States and China will be coming to Ithaca for the three-day event. All events will be held at Cornell University. Concurrent with the conference, an exhibition featuring the history of the Wason Collection and the rare materials from the collection will be on display in the Olin/Kroch Library corridor, the Severinghaus Asia Reading Room and Kroch Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

“This conference is a historical event that honors Wason’s noble ideal of bringing China and the United States into closer intellectual relations,” said Liren Zheng, curator of the Wason Collection. “I believe this conference will create opportunities for academicians and librarians to work together in the pursuit of excellence in East Asia studies.” Alumnus Charles W. Wason donated the seed of the collection 90 years ago, with materials that established China as a focal point for the Library and across the university. Over the years, the collection has expanded to include materials on Japan and Korea and grown to include more than half a million volumes and a multitude of serials and electronic resources. Today the Wason Collection is one of North America’s most distinctive collections on East Asia.