The History of EASL
By Cathy Thoelen
1981 John T. Ma, then librarian at the Sinologisch Instituut in Leiden,
convened a workshop on sinological libraries and library work in
Leiden. The successful gathering of sinological librarians from various
European countries leads to the founding of the European Association of
Sinological Librarians EASL, at first affiliated with EACS (the European
Association of Chinese Studies).
As to the founding members see
the attached minutes of the workshop.
Among them still active as members of EASL are: David Helliwell,
Bodleian Library, Oxford; John Michael Streffer, Staatsbibliothek
Berlin; Lars Fredriksson, Östasiatiska Biblioteket, Stockholm;
Katharina Thoelen, Ostasiatisches Seminar, Zurich.
John T. Ma is elected first chairman of the association, shortly
afterwards succeeded by David Helliwell, Oxford. Elisabeth Eide, Oslo,
is elected as secretary. When Elisabeth Eide quits her duties in 1983,
with J.M.Streffer taking over her task for a short term.
1984: David Helliwell is elcted
as chairman and secretary of the
Vienna 1991: Thomas Hahn, Heidelberg, takes over the chair from David
Helliwell; Helliwell still remains in function as EASL's secretary.
Prag 1994: Katharina Thoelen, Zurich, is designated as new chairwoman
to prepare and preside the next conferences.
Millennium conference Leiden
2000: Benedicte Vaerman, Leuven, succeeds
David Helliwell as secretary.
Number of member libraries, according to the list of the EASL homepage:
The number of librarians affiliated with EASL is fluctuating.
After the founding of EASL members meet every year thereafter in major
cities of Europe, in libraries important to the field. (See attached
list of succession of conferences.)
In 1982 a draft of a constitution
was presented by Elisabeth Eide, but
never was incorporated. Having led discussions once and again
thereafter on the question, how EASL should be structured and
organized, most of the members still are of the opinion, it should be
informal, without regulations, membership fees, officers in official
function between the conferences etc. In the first years the EASL
chairman regularly reported on the association's activities and
decisions of the conferences. After choosing different times and places
of the conferences of the respective associations this was not possible
Topics of discussion from the start were automation of the sinological
libraries, questions of formats, i.e. MARC format and others, library
systems, interlibrary loan, cataloguing rules, cooperation between
1982 David Helliwell drafted a
project for the compilation of congshu
in European libraries. Unfortunately it had to be abandoned because of
lack of funds.
1983 John T. Ma presented his idea of establishing a Central Research
Library for Chinese Studies in Europe. It proved to be too centralistic
for most of the members and did not enter serious discussion.
Access to membership of EASL is
very easy: send in your library's
address for the secretary's file and "register" in EASL's homepage
The annual conferences are organized along loose lines: discussion and
mutual exchange of experiences, as well as practical demonstrations are
emphasized and more important than lectures and papers by members or
invited experts. Experts mostly are found in the range of the members!
Nevertheless, any member is free to propose any topic, any expert's
paper etc. to the next conference's agenda, on the condition that
preparation should be done by this member her- or himself.
During the conference the share of informations, experiences, datas
etc. plays an important role beside the conference hours as well.
A bulletin has been published
until the year 1996, the new media of
EASL's homepage succeeds it at last, from 1998 onwards.
The homepage provides all
necessary infos on EASL and links to many
other relevant sites. It also is open to any interesting publication of
news and introduction of libraries. No publications with commercial
interest are accepted.
It was set up and is currently updated by Matthias Kaun,