The Starr Foundation awarded the Library a $1.5 million challenge grant in 2002, in conjunction with the Columbia East Asian Library’s hundred-year anniversary and in recognition of its importance to East Asian studies. The three-year grant provides matching funds, on a one-to-one basis, for contributions made to the Library by October 21, 2005. The Starr grant is to be directed toward three vital initiatives: support for improvements to the Library’s physical infrastructure, its growing Korean and Tibetan collections, and the digitization of the Library’s distinctive holdings.
“It is gratifying that so much of this $2.1 million came from people who value and actively use the East Asian collections,” said Amy V. Heinrich, Director of the Starr Library. “Over the past 100 years, one of the great strengths of the East Asian Library has been the sustained involvement of Columbia faculty, graduate students, and scholars in the development of our collections and our fundraising efforts.”
The East Asian Library at Columbia was named for C. V. Starr in 1983 after a complete renovation, funded primarily by The Starr Foundation, 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 unique holdings, and constantly improve its technology.
“The Starr Library is one of the world’s leading institutions in support of scholarship in the fields of East Asian Studies,” said James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. “The Starr Challenge funding will enable the Library to further strengthen its collections, its services and its spaces.”
Columbia is a leader in the field of East Asian studies, with more than 70 faculty working in this area. More than 20 percent of all undergraduates at Columbia and Barnard enroll in at least one course about East Asia. Students and scholars from all over the New York metropolitan area and the world have come to rely on the Starr Library for their research, and in the last decade, circulation of books at the Library has increased by 135 percent.
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. Mr. 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 $3.5 billion, making it one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It makes grants in a number of areas in addition to East Asian studies, including education, medicine and healthcare, public policy, human needs, culture and the environment.
Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.
The C.V. Starr East Asian Library is one of the major collections for the study of East Asia in the United States, with over 785,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Western language materials, as well as some holdings in Mongol and Manchu, and over 6,000 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. The Library’s Web site is located at: