Dr. Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Center
Founded in 1804, Ohio University is one of the oldest universities in the United States. The University was ranked 60th among public national universities by the U.S. News & World Report, 2010-2011. Ohio University has 11 colleges, a Center for International Studies, and over 250 undergraduate majors and offers master’s and doctoral programs in many disciplines. Latest figures show that the University has about 35,324 enrolled at its main campus in Athens and its five regional campuses in southern Ohio. Currently about 1,480 international students are enrolled each year from more than 100 countries and regions.
Ohio University Library is a member of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries (ARL) made up of 110 of the best academic libraries in the United States and Canada. The library currently holds over 3,000,000 books, and access to millions more through the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK). The Ohio University Library system is housed in the Vernon R. Alden Library, a modern seven-story structure and worldwide online access to more than 14,000 libraries in North America and around the world. The Ohio University Library system also includes five libraries at regional campuses. Ohio University Library is the only known library in the United States designated by the Governments of Malaysia, Botswana, Swaziland, and Guatemala as an official depository of publications from these countries. The Library has played a pioneering role in international library staff development. Over 175 professional librarians and information scientists from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia participated in its International Internship Program for Professional Librarians (1981-1999). This program was sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the United Nation Development Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Asia Foundation, the Yenching Educational Foundation, the Lingnan Educational Foundation, Blackwell North America, and others. It was also supported by generous donations from individuals. Over 20 program participants were directly sponsored by Dr. Daniel Shao, a famous Hong Kong entrepreneur. Many participants of the Program later became the leaders of their libraries.
In 1967, the Southeast Asia Collection at Ohio University Library and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University were established. The Collection and the Center were soon designated by the U.S. Government as the National Resource Center for Southeast Asian Studies. With the commitment of the University and support from the U.S. Government, as well as private gifts, the Southeast Asian Collection has developed into a world-class research collection on Southeast Asia. It currently occupies the first floor of the Vernon R. Alden Library building with a size of more than 20,000 square feet. The Collection contains more than 309,000 bound volumes. The strengths and services of the Collection have attracted scholars and other patrons from across North America, Southeast Asia, and the world to the Athens Campus. In recognition of its strengths and reputation, the Malaysian Government designated the Ohio University Southeast Asian Collection as the Malaysian Resource Center in North America in 1985. Three years later, the Malaysian Government further named it as the United States Depository for materials published in Malaysia. The Malaysian Government and U.S. corporations also jointly set up and fund a Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University with its office located in Ohio University Library’s Southeast Asia Collection. The Chair is named after Tun Abdul Razak, one of the former Prime Ministers of Malaysia.
In 1993, with an endowment of $500,000 from Dr. Shao You-Bao, the Dr. Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Center was established in the Ohio University Library. Despite the strength of the Southeast Asia Collection, a Center specially devoted to the documentation of and research on the Chinese overseas was needed to give more attention and direction to such efforts in a region which has arguably the largest concentration of ethnic Chinese in the world. The establishment of the Dr. Shao You-Bao Center was also aimed at extending these efforts beyond Southeast Asia, to include ethnic Chinese in other parts of the world. Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific, are under-documented and under-studied, but equally important, areas of Chinese migration and settlement, both historically and in the present.
Besides assisting researchers through the sharing of resources and information and other means, the Center also actively promotes international exchange and cooperation for Overseas Chinese studies through the organizing of conferences. In March 2000, the Center initiated and organized the first International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Overseas Chinese Studies that was held at Ohio University. Over 50 research institutes, libraries, university programs, academic societies, museums, archives, and other organizations from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. sent their directors or representatives to attend this groundbreaking conference. During the conference, a worldwide cooperative organization, the World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies (WCILCOS), was inaugurated, and the Center was selected to serve as its secretariat. Starting with the first conference held in Athens, Ohio in 2000, five successful conferences have been held around the world – Hong Kong (2003), Singapore (2005), Guangzhou (2009), and Vancouver (2012). These conferences have attracted a large number of scholars and librarians in the field of Chinese Overseas Studies from many nations. The Center aspires to take on an active role in the promotion of Chinese Overseas Studies in the world through organizing and supporting such events and gatherings. It is hoped that closer co-operation between libraries, institutes and researchers interested in Chinese overseas studies will greatly enhance our efforts to advance the field.
During this time, the Dr. Shao You-Bao Center has also developed on-line databases for publications on the Chinese overseas, scholars and librarians on Chinese overseas, demographic distribution of Chinese overseas worldwide, and Chinese overseas newspapers and journals. The Shao Center is seeking to further develop online resources on its own website and that of the WCILCOS, so as to make itself an important portal for researchers, librarians, and other educational institutions and users, as well as members of the public, to obtain information and resources on online Chinese overseas communities and resources in the new digital age.
The Center shall continue to strive to promote overseas Chinese research by supporting collection development in the field, conferences, preservation and documentation projects, and the research and writing of younger scholars in the field.