Columbia University Libraries Hosts Two-Day Conference on Tibetan Studies

(NEW YORK, February 19, 2009) On February 6-7, Columbia University’s C. V. Starr East Asian Library hosted a conference entitled “Tibetan Studies and the Social Sciences: Data, Tools, Maps and Archives.” Over 70 scholars, library professionals and students from North America and Europe attended the two-day event.


The C. V. Starr East Asian Library holds more than 15,000 volumes of Tibetan-language materials, in addition to a rich collection of related materials in Chinese and Western languages. Tibetan Studies Librarian Dr. Lauran Hartley organized the conference with the aim of “expanding the range of research projects undertaken on Himalayan areas” and to “highlight the variety and depth of library and other resources in New York City, which now provides a rich nexus of Tibet-related institutions, cultural and educational opportunities, as well as resources for academic research.”

The conference featured a panel discussion and five presentations on Friday followed the next morning by a hands-on workshop to explore the databases, software, and other resources discussed by the speakers. At a catered lunch on Saturday, Dr. Robert Barnett of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and CU alumni Dr. Paul Hackett offered a preview of rare and newly acquired acquisitions at the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, including the Tibet Information Network archives and the digitization in e-book format of Columbia University’s holdings of the rare Tibet Mirror newspaper, which was published in Kalimpong, India from 1925 to 1963.

On Saturday afternoon, attendees traveled downtown for a tour and overview of education and development resources at the Trace Foundation’s Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library in Greenwich Village. The weekend closed with a reception at the Rubin Museum of Art, and guided tour of the new “Patron and Painter” exhibition.

The conference was sponsored by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation to support the exploration of Himalayan Studies by undergraduate students.

A digital archive of Friday’s presentations will soon be posted to the Columbia Online Research Guide for Modern Tibetan Studies, a project of Professor Gray Tuttle and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. The guide is available now at

A $400 Undergraduate Research Prize was also announced. This is to be awarded in July 2009 to an outstanding paper that uses resources, methods, and tools discussed at the conference. Submissions may be forwarded to the C.V. Starr East Asian Library this spring, and will be evaluated for originality, source material, methodology, and overall excellence. Students who did not attend the conference should view the proceedings and related bibliographies online.

For more information, please contact Dr. Lauran Hartley, Tibetan Studies Librarian, at

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 820,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Western language materials, as well as some holdings in Mongol and Manchu, and over 6,500 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. The Library’s website is located at:

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

02/19/09 LMK