NTU and Chinese Heritage Centre open Wang Gungwu Library with 50,000 works on the Chinese Overseas
Students, scholars and casual historians will have easier and faster access to one of the most extensive library collections on the Chinese Overseas in Singapore, as the new Wang Gungwu Library officially opens its doors to the public today. The Library is a collaborative effort between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Chinese Heritage Centre that brings together a vast collection of 50,000 works related to Chinese communities overseas.
Named after Professor Wang Gungwu, an eminent historian of China and a pioneering authority in the study of the Chinese diaspora, the works in the library span across the disciplines of history, art, literature and philosophy. The collection comprises books and bound journals, as well as periodicals and rare printed materials, such as precious literature works published during the Republic of China (1912-1949).
The Wang Gungwu Library is slated to become an important research and resource centre on ethnic Chinese communities outside of China, as its collection includes genealogical records, publications by Chinese clan associations, school magazines and text books, as well as documents relating to the former Nanyang University.
In conjunction with the opening, Professor Wang Gungwu delivered an address on “Chinese Overseas and their Libraries” to mark the occasion. The Chinese Heritage Centre and NTU Library have also organised an exhibition to showcase part of the interesting collections in the Wang Gungwu Library. Selected publications by Professor Wang will also be displayed at the exhibition.
Speaking at the opening of the new Library, NTU President Dr Su Guaning said, "Prof Wang Gungwu is a true scholar’s scholar. It is befitting that the Wang Gungwu Library at the Chinese Heritage Centre bears his name. We are truly privileged to have such a rich resource under one roof. On behalf of NTU and the Chinese Heritage Centre, I would like to convey our deep appreciation to Professor Wang Gungwu and all the other donors for their generous contributions to the Wang Gungwu Library. I am confident that the valuable resources of the library will continue to grow and benefit scholars of the Chinese Overseas for future generations."
Prof Leo Suryadinata, director of the Chinese Heritage Centre added, "The opening of this new facility with our extensive collection significantly enhances the international standing of the Chinese Heritage Centre and NTU in the study of Chinese Overseas. We look forward to assisting an ever-increasing number of students and scholars explore the multifaceted histories and cultures of the Chinese Overseas at the new Wang Gungwu Library.”
Professor Wang Gungwu has authored numerous books and research papers on the Chinese and the Chinese diaspora. He was the founding president of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas and currently chairs the East Asian Institute, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Professor Wang is also Emeritus Professor of the Australian National University. In 2009, the University of Cambridge conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Letters on Professor Wang in recognition of his contribution to scholarship on China and the Chinese.
In 2003, Professor Wang bequeathed 20,000 volumes from his personal collection to the Chinese Heritage Centre. Following major renovation works to the Library in 2007, Professor Wang donated an additional 3,000 books. With the support of private donors and schools, and the acquisition of collections from local school libraries, the collection has grown substantially. A fund set up by the NTU Library has also helped in the acquisition of some of the most recent works on the Chinese Overseas.
In a joint development plan between the Centre and the NTU Library, the Wang Gungwu Library collection has further expanded. Under the agreement, the NTU Library provides professional and management support, as well as undertakes improvement works to the Wang Gungwu Library infrastructure.
Renovations carried out in 2007 significantly increased the Library’s space and shelving capacity, enabling it to house an extra 40,000 volumes in the Open area and 15,000 volumes in the Special Collection room. In addition, more conducive facilities have also been introduced, such as reading tables and computer consoles for users to access to the library’s e-resources.
The Library’s catalogue was also integrated with the NTU Library system and four project librarians from Wuhan University in China were hired to complete the cataloguing of 43,000 books which, until then, had largely been kept in storage.
In the long term, NTU and the Chinese Heritage Centre plan to develop the Wang Gungwu Library into a renowned special library focusing on study and research on Chinese overseas, drawing on the strengths of NTU Library.
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Feisal Abdul Rahman
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Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
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