The Korean Studies Collection at the Library LCAO of Université Paris Cité

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The Korean Studies Collection

at the Library LCAO of Université Paris Cité

Chung Hee-sun

Librarian, Library LCAO

Université Paris Cité

In 2020, Université Paris Descartes (Paris V), Université Paris Diderot (Paris VII), and IPGP (Institut de physique du globe de Paris) were merged and reborn as Université Paris Cité.

Université Paris Cité is a research-focused national university with divisions and research centers structured around three faculties: Faculté de Santé (Health), Faculté de Sciences (Sciences), and Faculté Sociétés et Humanités (Humanities and Social Sciences).

As an institution created by uniting two universities, the school offers a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, law, economics, humanities, language, social sciences, and science and technology. It currently supports approximately 63,000 enrolled students and 4,500 faculty members.

Since the merger, Université Paris Cité became one of the three French universities included in the top 100 universities according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2021 and 2022. Although these rankings are not absolute measures of outstanding universities, earning international recognition following the merger is considered an important bellwether.

The Korean Studies section at Université Paris Cité

Conflicts that had been latent across France in the decades after World War II erupted into resistance against the authorities, which further developed into the Protests of 1968. In May 1968 a protest initiated by students at the Sorbonne grew into a serious national crisis. This movement sparked changes across French society including reform of the French university system.

in accordance with the new law, University of Paris were to reorganized. This led to the division of the University of Paris into 13 universities.

Following this comprehensive reform of the university system, all the departments related to East Asian studies at Sorbonne Université were brought under Université Paris Diderot. The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (LCAO) at Université Paris Diderot came to include Korean Studies, Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and Vietnamese Studies in 1970.

In addition, The LCAO Department offers students comprehensive bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs.

For geopolitical reasons, the Korean Studies section, the first of its kind in France, was less popular at the beginning compared to other sections. Thanks to the hard work of Professor Li Ogg, the first dean of the Korean Studies section at Université Paris Diderot and a leader in Korean Studies research in France, and the first generation of French Korean Studies scholars, this program once on the brink of closure has continued to grow over the past 50 years and established itself as a Mecca for Korean Studies in the country.

With the increasing demand for Korean Studies, particularly since 2010, the Korean Studies section has diversified its programs and hired new faculty every year in an effort to support the growing program. As of 2022, the Korean Studies section is home to 354 enrolled students, 1 professor, 8 associate professors and 15 lecturers.

Bibliothèque LCAO

Université Paris Cité maintains a total of 21 libraries in three faculties (Health, Sciences, and Humanities and Social Sciences). Bibliothèque LCAO, which is under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is one of them.

Bibliothèque LCAO opened with the establishment of Université Paris Diderot in 1970. It consists of four sections: Korean Studies, Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and Vietnamese Studies. With a focus on resources written in the language of the source country.

The specialized documentation of the library is determined based on the LCAO Department’s course offerings and research. Currently, the library houses about 80,000 materials, including monographs and periodicals.

The Korean Studies collection

The Korean Studies collection began with the establishment of Université Paris Diderot in 1970. It was based on the personal collection of Professor Li Ogg before being fully integrated as part of Bibliothèque LCAO in 1992. Thanks to various exchanges and support from the South Korean government and other Korean institutions in the succeeding years, the collection has grown to contain a range of materials. The library continues to collect quality materials through the Support for Korean Studies Resources program of the Korea Foundation and through support from the National Library of Korea.

As of 2023, the Korean Studies collection contains about 13,659 materials, including books and periodicals in Korean and other languages. It covers a wide range of subjects, including arts, linguistics, history, geography, literature, philosophy, and social politics. In terms of the proportions of materials at Bibliothèque LCAO, Chinese makes up 46%, Japanese 22%, Korean 18%, and Vietnamese 14%. While the Korean collection is smaller than the Chinese or Japanese collections in terms of size, its diversity has made it popular among outside users (especially Korean Studies researchers) as well as students.

The Korean collection has steadily grown over the past 50 years alongside the Korean Studies section. The expansion of the Korean collection is closely related to the increasing interest in Korea in French society and the enrollment status of students at the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (LCAO).

The future of LCAO

The lockdowns imposed due to the Covid 19 pandemic forced university libraries in France to acknowledge the acute need for online access to library materials.

In the early stages of the pandemic, no Korean Studies program at a tertiary institution in France, including Université Paris Cité, maintained subscriptions to e-resources. Fortunately, however, the merger of universities that coincided with the pandemic allowed budgets for e-resources (projet "ReDoN" Ressources documentaires numériques) to be allotted to the libraries in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. As a result, Bibliothèque LCAO came to acquire e-resources related to Korean Studies. Beginning in 2021, the university subscribed to BookRail (a Korean e-books service) and DBpia (Korean academic journal database).

In addition, the library began to receive subsidies in 2023 for subscriptions to DBpia and KyoboScholar through the Support for Korean Studies Resources program of the Korea Foundation. Thanks to this program, Bibliothèque LCAO has become a major library in France with e-resources on Korea.

While the pandemic provided the library with an opportunity to acquire electronic Korean resources, sustaining this acquisition remains a challenge for the future, as an East Asian research library in France.

It is hoped that Bibliothèque LCAO will be able to continue to grow by providing researchers with quality Korean resources, both electronic and printed, and bring greater diversity to the Korean collection.