Ellie Kim (she/her) has been the Korean Studies Librarian at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library since 2019.
How did your journey in working with East Asian libraries and collections begin? Were there any opportunities that encouraged you to step into the East Asian Studies Librarianship?
I got my LIS degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. UHM Library has one of the largest Korean collections outside Korea, and luckily as a native Korean, I was able to intern and volunteer there. All the members of the Asia department, especially my predecessor Jude Yang, who is currently working at Yale, were good mentors to me as I wanted to become an area specialist.
What do you enjoy most about your career in East Asian librarianship so far?
Our Asian department has eight librarians who are responsible for different regions, and we collaborate organically on many projects. Asia’s history, culture, society, and politics are closely intertwined, so the most satisfying moment in my work is to broaden our knowledge and understand each other’s views through these joint projects.
What would you like to achieve/accomplish in the next 5 years?
The goal for the next few years is to digitize some of the most valuable books of the UHM Library’s Korea Collection and make them easily accessible to scholars around the world. In particular, the report of the Secretariat of the Japanese Government-General of Korea, which consists of more than 400 volumes from the Japanese colonial period, is a special collection that many scholars have visited for their research, but it has not yet been digitized due to its vastness and delicacy of the material. My primary goal is to digitize this material.
What excites you about the development of East Asian librarianship in the future?
It is true that many materials from East Asia have been old-fashioned printed forms compared to the West. However, it is very interesting to me that we are in the middle of a trend of increasing numbers of databases and publications available online according to the impact of the pandemic and the needs of users. As an old soul, I have always preferred paper books. However, as a librarian, I think we should encourage and urge this trend to solve the practical problems of user convenience and lack of space. It is very interesting to play a role as a librarian in this trend.
Any particular professional area(s) or direction(s), ie. digital humanities, library consortia initiatives, etc. that catches your interest and that you want to further explore?
As a history major, I am very into ancient and rare books. In particular, our Korean collection is one of the oldest collections, and books of historical value are consistently found in the general stacks. There is great interest in discovering these rare books, organizing them, and presenting them to users.
Tell us some fun facts about you:
I live with two of the cutest dogs in the world: Whiskey and Jazz.