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Korean studies collection development policy

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Program information

The James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching across the University community on issues related to Korea. Endowed by a generous gift from Mr. James Joo-Jin Kim in 2011, the Program (originally established in 1997 as Center for Korean Studies) advises the university on Korea-related initiatives, sponsors conferences and lectures by invited speakers, awards grants to faculty members and students, hosts visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows, and undertakes community outreach effort toward a better understanding of Korea.

Departmentally, the majority of Korean studies students and faculty are located in East Asian Languages & Civilizations, History, International Relations, the Graduate School of Education, Anthropology, and Sociology.

Collection description

The Korean studies collection at the Penn Libraries is focused on supporting researchers and scholars in Korean studies, as well as Korean language learners. Research and teaching at Penn--and collecting efforts--have recently concentrated on the following subjects: contemporary media and literature, pop culture and Hallyu (Korean Wave), historical genealogy, sociology, education practices, Chosǒn history, colonial Korea, Koreans in the Japanese colonies, and North Korea. The bibliographer aims to collect comprehensively on such specialized topics as these, while also creating a strong foundation for research and study of a broad range of topics in Korean studies, including history, politics, literature, religion and philosophy, and the arts in premodern and modern periods.

Guidelines for Collection Development

1. Chronological

Collecting includes a range of periods from Chosǒn to contemporary, with some pre-Chosǒn works such as on archaeology collected.

2. Formats

Collecting is divided between print books (such as contemporary scholarship, primary sources, literature, and advanced textbooks) and e-resources. Our e-resource packages include journal articles, ebooks, and reference materials.

3. Geographical

Congruent with the interdisciplinary and comparative nature of the current pedagogical and research approach to Korean studies at Penn, collection development focuses on pre-war Korea, South and North Korea, Japan, and China (including the former Manchuria).

4. Language

The Korean studies collection specializes in Korean-language materials, supplementing them with translations of literature or key scholarship into English and other Western languages, as well as important secondary scholarship in Japanese and Western languages.

5. Publication dates

The Korean studies collection concentrates almost exclusively on materials published after 2010, due to the scarcity of materials published more than five to ten years ago in Korea. Collecting includes recent reprints of historical primary sources.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

Korean studies materials are generally purchased directly from Korea via KBooks Repository and Panmun Co., Ltd. Through a recently established approval plan with KBooks, the bibliographer seeks to maintain and grow a strong general collection.

Panmun supplies regular lists of newly published and used/rare books, and these lists are supplemented by the websites of major academic publishers and university presses. Selections at Panmun are made by way of recommendations from Penn's Korean studies community and from new publication lists and otherwise. The latter selections are particularly geared toward current research and study needs.

Further selections are determined from lists sent by organizations such as the National Library of Korea, National Assembly Library, and Korea Foundation, from which the Penn Libraries receive gifts in kind. North Korean publications are purchased via China Classics, and Japanese publications are purchased through the Libraries' main Japanese vendors, JPT and Kinokuniya. 

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    The following subject areas are collected broadly: Korean history, politics, literature, religion and philosophy, and the arts in premodern and modern periods.

    Current strengths of the collection include:

    • Genealogy primary sources from throughout Korean history
    • History and culture in the colonial period
    • Chosǒn history and culture
    • Korean art (especially primary sources, such as museum catalogs and art books)
    • Rare North Korean periodicals
    • Contemporary Korean fiction and other literature
    • Primary sources on the Dokdo/Takeshima controversy

Subjects excluded

The following categories of materials are generally not collected:

  • Gray literature
  • Children's literature
  • TOPIK preparation textbooks
  • Translations of Western literature into Korean
  • Works on science and technology in general

Related subject collections