Virtual Library East, Southeast and Central Asia (2005-2015)

The Virtual Library East, Southeast and Central Asia – CrossAsia – offers access to research information for East and Southeast Asian studies. Cross Asia is a cooperatively organized and modular structured portal. CrossAsia has been developed by the East Asia Department of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) and its project partners. It is financially supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

Development and outlook of the project

The Virtual Library CrossAsia is designed as an interdisciplinary portal and central access point for online information on East, Southeast and Central Asian studies. The aim is to provide an integrated research of the distributed resources to users working in areas such as research, teaching, and academic study. In cooperation with its national and international project partners the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin provides access to professional information from and about East, Southeast and Central Asia independent from the form of publication. The spectrum of academic fields spread from philology to history, political science, economics, and regional studies. The portal integrates printed and electronic resources.

In the first phase of the project (2005-2007) the relevant resources of the national and international institutes were combined virtually. Furthermore, the East Asia Department of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin offered access to a selection of databases subject to licence. The second phase of the project (2007-2009) was devoted to extend existing modules and offer improved tools for searches etc. Additionally, the Online Guide East Asia – OGEA – a digital archive of online resources on Asia was added. OGEA now has developed into a jointly run information pool supported by a number of research and teaching institutions. In November 2008 a CrossAsia congress on using electronic resources in East Asian studies was held at Heidelberg University. The third and last phase of the project (2009-2010) aimed at integrating CrossAsia resources into the web pages of German academic institutions and institutes working on East Asia. Data to be integrated into OGEA for example was collected in collaboration and offered online to cooperating institutions via predefined gateways. Moreover the CrossAsia portal was redesigned as a content-management system and advance search engines were implemented. Primary aim of this last phase was to provide a permanent and stable basis for CrossAsia to assure the availability and further development of its resources and services beyond third party funding.

The Virtual Library CrossAsia gives special attention and importance to the searchability of information using the different writing systems within East, Southeast and Central Asia. Via the Virtual library portal central access is provided to national and international library catalogues using the original languages which in most cases are not integrated into the larger library networks. Within CrossAsia numerous original language catalogues are simultaneously accessible and researchers do not have to check them one by one anymore.

By making resources in electronic form widely accessible the research situation in East, Southeast and Central Asian studies has improved enormously. Formerly restricted access to rare books and precious editions for which travels to China or Japan were indispensable are successively included into full text databases and digital libraries. The East Asia Department of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin recently started to present parts of her collection in digitised form. The Berlin collection of Mongolian Maps and the collaborative presentation of the Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts are already accessible. The Waddel-collection of Tibetan texts, the old Japanese resources indexed in the catalogue of Eva Kraft and the up to now not properly catalogued Chinese and Mandju Libri sinici holdings are under way.

To provide CrossAsia users with an individualised access to this complex pool of different resources the East Asia Department of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is now developing the virtual research environment CrossAsia Campus. CrossAsia Campus will allow users to configure workspaces for individual projects and establish plattforms for national and international workgroups to jointly work with CrossAsia resources and other individual materials despite spatial distance. The virtual library CrossAsia acts as a platform cooperatively organized and modularly structured within the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin which is open to all students, researchers and interested users. Please feel free to contact us for any suggestions or questions.