Dear Friends and Colleagues, members of EAJRS,
Once again Father Time has handed over the duties of time to the Baby New Year. I hope that you have spent a pleasant and peaceful Christmas holiday. Now that we are presumably all back in our offices, I am sending you my best wishes for the new year, the year of the Horse, which will no doubt present us with some new challenges. One of them is to make sure that the gap between what I might call e-people and traditional book people does not grow any wider. We must foster awareness of each other’s irreplaceable value and role, and we hope that EAJRS can make a small contribution to that awareness.
Last year the Paris conference fulfilled all its promises and turned out to be a resounding success. Ninety-two participants registered before the opening of the conference, while after the start there were an additional nine walk-ins. We welcomed no less than 31 attendants from France, the largest group. We heard a series of fascinating presentations, were shown a fine selection of rare books at the libraries of the Musée Guimet and the BULAC, and made a most enjoyable excursion to Giverny. Our gratitude goes to Antony Boussemart (École française d’Extrême-Orient), Pascal Hurth (BULAC: Bibliothèque universitaire des langues et civilisations), Masako Hasegawa (Musée national des arts asiatiques-Musée Guimet), Nathalie Cazal and Kaoru Baba (Collège de France), Véronique Béranger (Bibliothèque nationale de France), Yoshinori Ichikawa (Maison du Japon - Cité universitaire internationale) and Yasuko D’Hulst (EHESS: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences sociales). Involving so many institutions offered greater possibilities for synergy, but equally entailed much more work in terms of co-ordinating and adjusting between the various partners. This collaboration between educational and research institutions, museums (material resources, artefacts) and libraries (documentary material), made for a rich and varied programme. EAJRS’ core business is indeed at the intersection of the respective missions of these three kinds of institutions.
The conference was an occasion to get to know the situation in France itself much better, while on a more personal level it gave me the opportunity to meet a few old Paris-based friends, which gave the conference an additional touch of congeniality. There was much opportunity for exchange and networking, and the vendors’ hands-on workshop was once again felt by everyone to be a rewarding and instructive experience. Thanks to the funding of the Japan Foundation we were able to invite two speakers from Japan for the Okinawa Studies session, as well as five resource specialists from Eastern Europe and one from Lebanon.
We express our sincere gratitude to all of our members for joining us in such great number and for the contributions they all made both in scholarly and convivial terms.
What do we have to look for in the year 2014? The EAJRS continues to support a number of initiatives, including the kuzushiji workshops in Europe, conducted by Prof. Imanishi Yūichirō, director of the National Institute of Japanese Literature, as well as the Japan Specialist Workshops, organised by the National Diet Library. This year NDL is organising the Japanese Studies Support Symposium "What can Japanese Libraries do to support Japanese studies outside Japan?" from 29 to 31 January. This symposium will also include a round-table to explore various modes in which the National Diet Library can support Japanese research librarians overseas. Secondly, following the successful series of NIJL/EAJRS Kuzushiji workshops held in Oxford, Leuven, Zurich, Bonn, and Paris, NIJL is now planning to hold a second Oxford workshop at intermediate level, using historical sources as texts. I will be sending fuller details about this workshop in a separate email message. The dates are 24 - 26 March 2014, and the venue is the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. You will also find detailed information on the EAJRS website.
In September the 25th EAJRS conference will be held in Leuven, which has acted once before as host to the EAJRS conference in 1998. The dates proposed are 17 through 20 September 2014. Do not forget to mark them in your diary. An outline of the programme has already been posted on the EAJRS website. We hope the proposed dates are compatible with your agenda. As I have already informed you in a message sent out last month, the Leuven conference will also elect and confirm a new board.
The general assembly in Paris set the deadline for the submission of applications and abstracts at 30 May 2014. The programme will include one or two special sessions (depending on the number of presentations) on the problems of conservation and restoration of cultural properties. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, specialised Japanese institutions, such as the Historiographical Institute, of the University of Tokyo, have been involved in the restoration and consolidation of a host of damaged documents and artefacts. The know-how they have acquired in the process must be shared with other specialists involved in the various aspects of resources. I trust this session will offer the opportunity to welcome people who hitherto have not found the way to our conference. The overall title for the conference was chosen in reference to that session: “The 25th Annual EAJRS Conference: Protection, Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties.” However, as always, all topics germane to the mission of EAJRS are welcome. Detailed information on the programme, accommodation and logistical matters will be made available in the course of January.
As you can see, we have something to look forward to in 2014. I hope to see you all in Leuven. There remains much to be done to further the cause of EAJRS, and we count on your continued support and dedication. In the meantime, on behalf of the board of the EAJRS, we wish you and all who are dear to you a happy and fruitful New Year 2014.
W.F. Vande Walle, chairman EAJRS