Columbia's C. V. Starr East Asian Library has been awarded a $1.5 million challenge grant from The Starr Foundation. The three-year grant will be used to support additions to the Korean and Tibetan collections, the digitization of selected collections and improvements to the Library's infrastructure including technology and furnishings. The library, founded in 1902, celebrates its centennial this year and will host a symposium and reception in the spring.
"It's wonderful to work with The Starr Foundation again," said Amy V. Heinrich, director of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library. "This challenge grant enables the library to expand its leadership in new areas of exploration that have developed at Columbia and across all of higher education."
The East Asian Library at Columbia was named the C. V. Starr Library in 1983, after a transforming renovation, funded primarily by The Starr Foundation, which substantially increased the Library's shelf space, improved its climate control, furnishings, storage and reading areas. The million-dollar donation was followed by an endowment of $3 million, to continue the acquisition work of the library, preserve the library's excellent holdings and constantly improve its technology.
Columbia University Librarian James G. Neal applauded "the extraordinary record of support for the East Asian Library from The Starr Foundation and the importance of this new gift to the Library's excellence and to the Library's assistance in teaching and research."
The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, an insurance entrepreneur who founded the American International family of insurance and financial services companies, now known as American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG). Starr, a pioneer of globalization, set up his first insurance venture in Shanghai in 1919. He died in 1968 at the age of 76, leaving his estate to the Foundation. The Foundation currently has assets of approximately $4 billion, making it one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It makes grants in a number of areas, including education, medicine and healthcare, public policy, human needs, culture and the environment.
The C. V. Starr East Asian Library is one of the major collections for the study of East Asia in the United States, with more than 730,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan and Western language materials, with some holdings in Mongol and Manchu, and more than 5,500 periodical titles. The collection, established in 1902, is particularly strong in Chinese history, literature and social sciences; Japanese literature, history and religion, particularly Buddhism, and Korean history.