Overseas Chinese Collection
In 1967, the Southeast Asia Collection at Ohio University Libraries and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University were established. With the commitment of the University and support from the U.S. Government, as well as private gifts, the Southeast Asian Collection has developed into a world-class research collection on Southeast Asia. It currently occupies the first floor of the Vernon R. Alden Library building with a size of more than 20,000 square feet. The Malaysian Government further named it as the United States Depository for materials published in Malaysia. The Malaysian Government and U.S. corporations also jointly set up and funded a Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University. The Chair is named after Tun Abdul Razak, one of the former Prime Ministers of Malaysia.
In 1993, with an endowment of $500,000 from Dr. Shao You-Bao, the Dr. Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Center was established in the Ohio University Library. A Center specially devoted to the documentation of and research on the Chinese overseas was needed to give more attention and direction to such efforts in a region which has arguably the largest concentration of ethnic Chinese in the world. The establishment of the Dr. Shao You-Bao Center was also aimed at extending these efforts beyond Southeast Asia, to include ethnic Chinese in other parts of the world. The ethnic Chinese in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific, are under-documented and under-studied, but are important areas of Chinese migration and settlement, both historically and in the present era.
Besides assisting researchers through the sharing of resources and information, the Center also actively promotes international exchange and cooperation for Overseas Chinese studies through the organizing of conferences. In March 2000, the Center initiated and organized the first International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Overseas Chinese Studies that was held at Ohio University. Over 50 research institutes, libraries, university programs, academic societies, museums, archives, and other organizations from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. sent their directors or representatives to attend this groundbreaking conference. During the conference, a worldwide cooperative organization, the World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies (WCILCOS), was inaugurated, and the Center was selected to serve as its secretariat. Starting with the first conference held in Athens, Ohio in 2000, successful conferences have been held around the world – Hong Kong (2003), Singapore (2005), Guangzhou (2009), Vancouver (2012), Xiamen (2015) and Ithaca, NY (2018). These conferences have attracted large numbers of scholars and librarians in the field of Chinese Overseas Studies from many nations. It is hoped that closer co-operation between libraries, institutes and researchers interested in Chinese overseas studies will greatly enhance efforts to advance the field.