Skip to main content

Duke University Libraries are committed to providing top-tier support for the University’s global interdisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach initiatives and their capacity to address global challenges at home and abroad. The Libraries’ International & Area Studies (IAS) Department spearheads that part of the Libraries’ mission. Founded in 1991 by Deborah Jakubs, IAS brings together an interdisciplinary team of research librarians with specialized language skills and deep knowledge of the world’s regions. These subject experts are charged with building Duke’s international and area studies collections, providing library instruction and reference consultations, and engaging with faculty involved in global research, teaching, and digital projects.

At the end of the 20th century, thanks to the internationalization of Duke, IAS expanded its initial focus on the British Commonwealth and Latin America by establishing a separate East Asian Collection and creating positions for librarians of Japan and China. Most recently, IAS has hired staff to support programmatic growth in Korean Studies, Middle East/Islam, Hebraica/Judaica, South/east Asia, and Russia/Eastern Europe. This expansion has allowed IAS to become involved in nearly every aspect of the Libraries and University dealing with things global, from acquiring and digitizing unique, foreign-language materials to supporting the changing demographics of Duke student-body, which now includes many more international students, children of immigrants, and Americans of different ethnic groups. IAS’ very success, however, has strained the financial and human resources that make the department’s work possible.

Establish a restricted endowment to support the work of IAS ($300,000+)

Through its support of IAS today, the Libraries continue to develop its distinctive international and area studies collections and facilitate the scholarly work and teaching of the faculty across all of Duke’s departments, professional schools, and research centers. However, additional funding from individuals and foundations will enable the Libraries to be more ambitious in building a more diverse global collection and supporting its use by faculty, students, and visiting scholars, including researchers at the Triangle-based National Humanities Center. It will provide financial support for the position of IAS department head; underwrite the professional activities of the diverse group of librarians who are responsible for acquiring and curating Duke’s foreign language materials (e.g., by supporting attendance at international book fairs and library events); and, increase the department’s ability to leverage its staff’s subject expertise and cultural literacy in order to make non-English language materials intellectually and physically accessible to the Libraries’ patrons (e.g., by hiring student assistants for help with foreign language cataloging).

A restricted endowment will further enhance Duke’s reputation as a major site for conducting research in international and area studies. It will promote the globalization of the University by enabling the Libraries to fund several interlinked initiatives, such as (1) the development of distinctive and more representative international and area studies collections, not only across a broad range of formats (print and electronic) and topics (climate change, international terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation), but also in terms of formerly-underrepresented global voices (e.g., African scholars from Africa; dissident Uyghurs from China; LGBTQIA and women’s rights activists from Russia/Eastern Europe); (2) the sponsorship of international book buying trips, which remain the best way to acquire unique materials, such as rare books, manuscripts, and “gray” literature (publications by non-governmental organizations, small independent publishers, and social movements); and (3) the collaboration with the Libraries’ catalogers, archivists, and metadata specialists to describe non-English language materials in a way that makes them comprehensible, accessible, and discoverable for library users at Duke and from around the world.