Valuable research collection of Chinese newspapers digitised in major milestone for global China Studies
One of the world’s leading collections of valuable Chinese newspapers will be digitised as part of a landmark investment by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to expand global access to its unique resources in China Studies. The digitisation of valuable and fragile materials covering mid-20th century China from the Universities Service Centre for China Studies (USC) Collection comes as CUHK advances its new 2021-2025 Strategic Plan which has identified ‘China: Tradition and Modernity’ as a strategic research theme.
Expected to take 36 months, the digitisation will commence with regional Chinese newspapers from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. 41 titles with over one million individual pages will be digitised, indexed by article-level, and placed on an open online platform ensuring the global scholarly community has access to critical materials covering the establishment phase of the People’s Republic of China. The USC Collection will remain open for use by scholars throughout the digitisation project.
The digitisation of the USC Collection coincides with the recent appointment of the inaugural Modern China Studies Librarian in the CUHK Library, which represents another commitment to boosting scholarly capacity in this important area. Dr Miriam Seeger took up the appointment in October 2021 to further build CUHK’s leadership position in the study of modern China.
The digitisation project follows the USC’s formal integration with the CUHK Library earlier this year, which sees the USC Collection fully searchable in the main library system and leverages resources, expertise and IT infrastructure from what is one of the region’s leading research libraries to deliver greater prominence to the USC Collection in the China Studies ecosystem.
The strategic importance of the collection to China Studies was further highlighted by the recent establishment of the USC Collection Advisory Group comprised of eminent global scholars such as Yale University’s Professor Deborah Davis and Stanford University’s Professor Andrew G. Walder, along with CUHK’s Professors Pierre Landry, Jan Kiely and Rowena Xiaoqing He.
CUHK’s Provost, Professor Alan K.L. Chan, said “this investment represents a new lease of life for what is a cherished asset for scholars of modern China. CUHK aspires to be a global centre of scholarship on China and the digitisation of the USC Collection will ensure we are an even more accessible and vibrant hub for China research.”
CUHK’s Dean of Arts and Director of the Institute for Chinese Studies (ICS), Professor Max Xiaobing Tang, said, “ICS was established almost six decades ago with a mission to serve as an international centre for research and transnational collaboration in the broad field of China Studies. I’m glad that all scholarly activities and programming previously associated with USC will continue and be further expanded at ICS or in collaboration with the University Library.”
Dr Miriam Seeger said, “this digitisation project will protect some of the world’s most valuable collections of newspapers which bear witness to one of the most important periods in the development of modern China. With the CUHK Library’s expertise in the preservation and management of precious collections and our commitment to open scholarship, we are excited the digital nature of this project means we will be supporting modern China studies on a truly global scale.”
About the Universities Service Centre for China Studies Collection
The Universities Service Centre was established in 1963 to serve academics and emerging scholars in the study of contemporary China. It became part of CUHK in 1988 and was remade the Universities Service Centre for China Studies. The USC Collection is one of the world’s largest and accessible resources on post-1949 China.
In January 2021, the USC Collection became part of the CUHK Library, complementing the library’s extensive collections which include more than five million items in eastern languages forming a globally unique centre of excellence on China Studies.
Since its establishment, the USC has been open to local, national and global scholars regardless of institutional affiliation and visiting scholars are welcome to book study space to make use of the USC’s resources. Exchange and academic activities continue under the auspices of the CUHK Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS).