Columbia Library columns (v.33(1983Nov-1984May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  v.33,no.1(1983:Nov): Page 23  

The C. V. Starr East Asian Library

Computers Challenge the Grand Tradition


J/" If ^HE best time to visit the C. V. Starr East Asian Library
I      is at dawn, when sun lights the great stained-glass win-

Ji_ dow at the east end of Kent Hall. The view down the
recently renovated main reading room, with its high vaulted ceil¬
ing and dark polished-wood columns, conjures the age-old human¬
ism of oriental scholarship. Meanwhile, from the west wing,
behind the tall bookcases, where the librarians work, comes the
hum of computer terminals, being "brought up" by a stream of
electrons from the main-frame at Stanford. This fall, Columbia
will be among the first to create bibliographic records in Chinese,
Japanese, and Korean (CJK) scripts, as well as our own Roman
alphabet, on newly invented CJK terminals. These records will
join a nation-wide data base tliat is transforming the way libraries
do business. Time calls this the "Year of the Computer," when
circuit boards and silicon arc everywhere challenging people as
the dominant force in shaping our world. And nowhere is this
conflict sharper than in an East Asian library that shelters a grand
hmiianist tradition and lias been built by a rainbow of colorful

Consider, for example, General Horace Walpole Carpentier,
son of a cobbler on Canal Street (now the site of New York's
Chinatown), who graduated from Columbia College in 1848, and
promptly joined the rush west, sailing around the Horn and ar¬
riving in California the following year. Like most "forty-niners,"
Carpentier found no gold, but he managed to open a general store
to buy cheap and sell dear the goods demanded by those who did.
After making his fortune and serving for a time as Mayor of Oak¬
land, he returned to New York to enjoy his riches and spend them

  v.33,no.1(1983:Nov): Page 23