Influences on Decision Making in University Libraries: A Diversity Issue?

Ms Friederike Schimmelpfennig2

2Australian National University , Canberra, Australia

It is the Asian century, or so we are told. University libraries that hold Asian studies materials, sometimes in substantial numbers, have long supported those studies. Some have managed to build a reputation for their collection that are renowned world-wide, and where the universities themselves are happy to advertise these as “world-class”. It seems within the overall decline of humanities at universities in general Asian Studies may still have maintained their place, even though having suffered severe staff cuts, re-classified as “area studies”, and having to be content with less support from their library. In many libraries having specialised staff for regional studies or keeping the collection as a separate part within a library is increasingly considered superfluous worldwide, and which thus can be axed first. This is then explained by economic rationalism and TINA. Yet is this the only reason? What about the cultural knowledge and language proficiency of decision-makers? Can they make informed decisions on the inherent value of those “area studies”? I will look at the structure of senior management of university libraries and look closer at those with Asian studies libraries in Australia, and hope to shed a light on how decision-making is influenced by other than barely economic reasoning.


Friederike is the current CJK librarian at ANU since 2014. She holds a master’s degree in Classical Chinese Studies from the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and one in Information and Library Studies from the University of Wales Aberystwyth (UK). She has worked as a CJK librarian for 12 years and a library project manager for ten, and has a lot of experience in cooperative cataloguing, metadata quality control, and resource sharing. She is now venturing into the further identification of local rare books to support the digitisation efforts of ANU.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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