Columbia Library columns (v.45(1996))

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  v.45,no.1(1996:Spring): Page 28  

Amy Vladeck Heinrich and Amy Hai Kyung Lee

occupied Korean students. There was a long
hiattis, which we are still in the process of re¬
constructing; however, it is clear that the svs-
tematic collecting of Korean materials began
only after renewed interest and Universitv
commitment in the earlv 1950s. But the roots,
planted by Korean sttidents in the 1930s, had
taken hold. The collection now has a total of
approximately 40,000 volumes, plus subscrip¬
tions to 330 periodicals.

Among those \'oliimes are the 517 titles in
1,857 volumes of the Yi Song-Cii Collection of
rare books, acquired by the Library in the late
1960s. Yi Song-Cii was an antiquarian book
dealer in Seoul, and became the foremost ati-
thority on old movable type in Korea. When
he died in the winter of 1964-1965, his per¬
sonal collection was put on the market by his
heirs. C'ohimbia spent close to two years
negotiadng the purchase. The collection as
finally acquired was smaller than the one orig¬
inally sought, since strong pressure developed
in Korea to keep the whole collection or at
least the typographicalK oldest items within
the country. Some particularly valuable and
unique items did remain in Korea. The 1,857
volumes Columbia acquired are housed in
over 700 cases and printed, either with wood¬
blocks or movable wood or metal type fonts,
on Korean paper made from mulberry tree
fiber. A significant number of these are books
printed with movable metal type, and some of
the type fonts used predate the 1590s.-^

0\'er the years man\ of the \()lumes, which
are in generally good condition, weie cata¬
loged. However, it is only lecentlv thai the col¬
lection has been reviewed by a specialist in
Korean rare books. The first expert to exam¬
ine the collection, Paek Rin, formerh of lhe
Harvard-Yenching Library, identihed four¬
teen titles that he labelled "most rare." Then,
in Atigust 1994, the C. V. Starr East Asian
Library hosted four Korean rare book ex¬
perts: Chon Hye Bong, former member.
Committee on Cultural Properties, and pro¬
fessor. Academy of Korean Studies; Lee Jtmg
Sup, specialist member, C^onmuUee on
Cultural Properties; Kim Ki Yong, execuli\'e
secretary. Association of Bibliography; and
Park Sang Kuk, consultant, Cxmimittee on
Cultural Properties. They worked in Starr for
several weeks, cataloging the Koican lare
book collection, as part of a Korean national
project designed to catalog and confirm the
status of Korean bibliograjihic culuiral |)rop-
erties outside Korea.

Their work was jmblished in N(>vend)er
1994, in Haeoe Chonjok Munhxuajae Chosa
Mongnok: Miguk Columbia Taehak Tonga
Tosogimn Sojang Han'gukpon Mongiiok (Biblio¬
graphy of Overseas Rare Book Cultural Treas¬
ures: Korean Rare Book Catalog of Columbia
University, United States), published by the
Korean Association of Bibliography, Seoul. It
includes annotated records for the Korean
rare book collection and an additional sec-

  v.45,no.1(1996:Spring): Page 28