After the Second World War, the Chinese collections and Chinese studies in North America developed rapidly. The development of Chinese studies in North America needs to be supported by a large number of Chinese collections, and the construction and development of Chinese collections actually relies on professional librarians with Chinese studies background. Professional knowledge and the recognition of Chinese culture have formed their core competence of Chinese studies librarians in North America, which could be of great help in knowledge services, academic research and cultural communication. The Chinese studies librarians have played a great role in the spread and development of Chinese culture abroad. On the one hand, they provide the communities with Chinese information resources and services in the library profession; On the other hand, they also undertake some research activities in the field of Chinese studies.
The Chinese studies Librarians discussed in this paper are mainly Chinese librarians working in the East Asian libraries in North America and engaging in Chinese studies at the same time.In addition to the basic qualities and skills of the professional librarian in North America, the Chinese studies librarians also need to meet the following three requirements: 1) have academic background of Chinese related disciplines; 2) master at least two languages: Chinese & English; 3) engaged in Chinese teaching or research activities. The Chinese studies librarians highlight the academic abilities of librarians in Chinese studies, emphasize the relationship between librarians and academic research (especially Chinese studies) activities. This is the most important difference between Chinese studies librarians and Chinese collection librarians and Chinese librarians.
Their common understanding in ethnic background, professional identity, academic pursuit and other aspects, promoted the foundation of the Society for Chinese Studies Librarians in 2010, and the emergence of this professional organization, marked the formal formation of the Chinese studies librarian community in North America. On the one hand, identity, common goals and a sense of belonging, are the basic elements for the community to generate; On the other hand, their characteristics in terms of geographical distribution, institutional sources and knowledge structure are important safeguards for the maintenance of the community. Since its formation, Chinese studies librarian community has actively planned, organized and participated in various professional and academic activities, including holding annual conference, publishing academic journal—“Tian Lu Lun Cong”, and participating in international exchanges and cooperation, which build an effective practice model, and become an important guarantee for maintaining and developing the community.
Based on the academic background of overseas Chinese studies and “cultural China”, this paper gives a systematic study of the Chinese studies librarians in North America and the Society for Chinese Studies Librarians from the perspective of the community formation and development, and explores the development history, membership, organization structure, professional practices, and academic activities. While presenting the history and status quo of Chinese studies librarian community in North America, this paper also reveals the academic value and practical significance of this community,such as the following: 1)scientific perspective on overseas Chinese librarian group study; 2) important role in the development of library science and librarianship in North America; 3) effective demonstration of role transition and service transformation of librarians;4) strategic significance in the context of “cultural China”. 3 figs. 6 tabs. 40 refs.