Ohio U. hosts Institute of Chinese Academic Leaders

ATHENS — Ohio University Libraries will host the first Institute for Chinese Academic Leaders: Valuing the Best of Tradition While Strategically Managing Change from July 26 through Aug. 7.

The invited participants, Chinese leaders from a select group of academic deans and assistant deans, will investigate strategic approaches to address new challenges, yet still hold true to the long-standing values of the profession.

The two-week long Institute for Chinese Academic Leaders, held at Ohio University in Athens, will feature top U.S. and international experts covering today’s issues and challenges facing academic libraries such as: buildings and design, special collections, Chinese-American relations, innovative services, and strategic planning for the next generation of academic libraries.

“Our Chinese colleagues participating in this program will interact in a small group setting with American library leaders representing a significant breadth and depth of experiences in academic libraries,” said Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education at Ohio University Libraries. “They will discuss the commonalities and differences between our cultures in delivering state of the art library services and spaces…of the future.”

Additionally, the Chinese Institute will include visits to several major U.S. universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, University of Cincinnati, and Ohio State University; as well as key American institutions that have had a significant impact on libraries, which include: Library of Congress, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, Online Computer Library Center and Southeast Ohio Regional Depository.

Ohio University’s long established history with China began as early as 1909, when the first Chinese student enrolled in the university. In the summer of 1978, almost 70 years later, Ohio University welcomed the Chinese Education Delegation looking to initiate a program for educational exchange with American institutions of higher education — and Ohio University was selected for its ideal environment and academic curriculum for Chinese studying abroad.

Following the establishment of the exchange program, Ohio University Libraries founded the International Librarians Internship Program to train librarians from developing countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

According to the publication, “Sage in the Cathedral of Books,” by Yang Yang, “The internship program at Ohio University played a critical role in the development of Chinese librarianship in the 1980s and 1990s.” Many of those same Chinese interns later became leaders in the field of professional librarianship.

“It was then-Dean of Libraries Hwa-Wei Lee’s vision to create as many cultural exchanges with Chinese librarians as possible. Nearly a quarter of a century later, it’s evident how important an impact that exchange has had on our profession,” said Scott Seaman, dean of Libraries. “It’s an extraordinary legacy that we are honored to continue.”

The stream of Chinese students to the Ohio University campus has continued — in fall 2014, more than 800 undergraduate and graduate students from China enrolled at the university.