The Columbia University Libraries have collected material on East Asia for a long time. In the early decades of the twentieth century, as an "East Asiatic" collection came into being, the majority of such materials came to be assigned to this collection. Given the limited number of publications on East Asia in those days, anything remotely related to the East Asian area—and frequently material related to other parts of Asia or "The Orient" in general—was added as well. However, as the field of East Asian Studies grew ever faster, particularly in the later decades of the twentieth century, the publication output grew in conjunction and with it the need to become more selective in collecting such publications. This explains why, among older parts of the collection, one may find material on subjects that would today be considered out of scope.
Starr's Western-language collection serves to complement the library's collections in the East Asian original scripts, and provides access to Western-language scholarship on East Asia. Curricular support and support for research by the Columbia community comprise the main focus of the collection. The emphasis of the collection is particularly on scholarship in the Humanities, and more selectively the Social Sciences, with lesser holdings on a number of other subjects. And, as research and teaching foci shift, the collection scope broadens correspondingly.
In addition to what the Starr Library collects, a substantial number of Western-language materials on East Asia can also to be found in other divisions of the Columbia University Libraries; e.g., East Asian business and economics materials are in the Business Library, materials on East Asian international relations are generally in Lehman Library, and East Asian arts are, for the most part in Avery/Fine Arts Library. CLIO, the online catalog, indicates locations for all material in the bibliographic records.
Current Western-language periodical issues are shelved, in call number order, on the west wall of the second alcove on the southside of the reading room. Completed volumes are bound and then transferred to ReCAP, the offsite facility. These volumes can be requested by patrons, using the request function in the bibliographic record in CLIO. Alternatively, electronic document delivery of specific articles can be requested using the same request form.
Any comments, questions, and suggestions regarding Starr's Western-language collection can be directed to the East Asian Studies Librarian.