ENKRS: The European Network of Korean Resource Specialists

  • Department International Cooperation and PR Team
  • Registration Date 2023-10-26
  • views 301
Character size

ENKRS: The European Network of Korean Resource Specialists


Youn-hi Hughes

East Asian Studies Librarian

The University of Sheffield


Korean Studies classes were first introduced in Europe around the mid-20th century along with Chinese and Japanese Studies programs. They began as independent courses at a small number of universities, but were gradually expanded and grew into Korean Studies departments.

Similarly, Korean Studies collections received little attention at first and were overshadowed by Chinese and Japanese Studies collections. The rapid rise of Korean media on the international stage in the early 21st century provided a long-awaited push for the expansion of Korean Studies collections in Europe and eventually for the creation of the European Network of Korean Resource Specialists (ENKRS).

Library networks in Europe

■ Many European countries maintain university library networks to support Asian Studies programs tailored to the needs of their own and neighbouring countries. Examples include DocAsia in France, the Nordic NIAS Council (NNC) in Northern Europe, CrossAsia in Germany, and the UK China, Japan, and Korea Library Groups in the United Kingdom. Integrated networks spanning Europe such as the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) and the European Association of Sinological Librarians (EASL) were launched in the 1980s and have since been actively engaged in the field. Despite the popularity of Korean cultural products, however, libraries in Europe still suffer from lack of Korean Studies specialist librarians. A great number of universities have Japanese or Chinese Studies librarians who also double as Korean Studies librarians.

■ The lack of a network of Korean Studies librarians in Europe began to be addressed when the Korean Studies librarian at Freie Universität Berlin participated in the 2017 Workshop for Overseas Librarians hosted by the National Library of Korea. Recognizing the need for such a network, this librarian organized the first workshop for Korean Studies librarians in Europe in 2018 under the title of “Building a Network of Korean Resources Specialists in Europe.” The workshop was sponsored by the Korea Foundation Berlin Office.

A total of 23 librarians from ten countries across Europe participated. The topics discussed included information exchanges in Europe, distribution of digital resources, and the cataloguing system for Korean Studies resources.

The table below summarizes the organizations that participated in the 2018 workshop.


Country

University

No. of participants (persons)

Belgium

KU Leuven


Denmark

NIAS - Nordic Institute of Asian Studies


Finland

Helsinki University


Germany

Berlin State Library

Deutsche National Bibliothek (The German National Library)

Free Berlin University (3 people)

Heidelberg University

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

SLUB Dresden (State and University Library Dresden)

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

9

Italy

Sapienza University of Roma


Netherlands

Leiden University


Norway

University of Oslo


Poland

Dolnośląska Biblioteka Publiczna im. Tadeusza Mikulskiego (Lower Silesian Public Library)


Serbia

Nikola Tesla University


United Kingdome

SOAS, University of London

The British Library

University of Cambridge

University of Oxford

University of Sheffield

V&A Museum

6

Source: ENKRS


One result of the 2018 workshop was the creation of the European Network of Korean Resources Specialists (ENKRS). In addition, an official ENKRS email account was introduced to allow members to exchange information and resources with one another.

Through the effort Korean Studies librarians in Europe gained a structure through which they can share information and knowledge on related resources and lead the advancement of Korean Studies across Europe.

Given that most Korean Studies librarians in Europe also serve as Chinese, Japanese, or East Asian Studies librarians and only a few are fluent in the Korean language, workshop participants discussed the need for a regular program for Korean Studies librarians that could assist them with the distribution of Korean Studies resources.

ENKRS 2019 – 2022

Following the workshop at Freie Universität Berlin, the first ENKRS conference, “Korean Studies Digital Resources,” was held in 2019 at the University of Sheffield. It was possible thanks to continued support from the Korea

Foundation Berlin Office. Focusing on the distribution of Korean Studies resources, conference attendees discussed sharing information with the North American network of Korean Studies librarians, exchanging information on Korean Studies digital resources, exploring Korean Studies resources housed in European universities, and accessing information on the resources of the National Library of Korea. As an external presenter, a Korean Studies librarian from Harvard University, who is a member of the Committee on Korean Materials (CKM) at the Council on East Asian Libraries, made a presentation on the North American network of Korean Studies librarians and Korean Studies resources. Representatives from the National Library of Korea and Korean resources suppliers also came and offered presentations. All in all, the 2019 conference served as an excellent opportunity to further systematize ENKRS, learn from the North American network, and build further cooperative networks supporting Korean Studies resources.

ENKRS did not hold a conference in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, KU Leuven in Belgium partnered with the Korean Embassy in the country to host the second ENKRS conference “Korean Studies in Belgium” in conjunction with the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The conference was offered in a hybrid format and opened with welcoming speeches from the Director of KU Leuven Libraries and the Korean Ambassador to Belgium. Presentation subjects included materials related to the 120 years of Korea-Belgium diplomatic relations, the history of Korean Studies at KU Leuven, Korean Studies resources at KU Leuven, and textbooks in Dutch on the Korean War. The National Library of Korea participated via video and provided a presentation about old Korean books/documents. Through this conference, Korean Studies librarians in Europe learned about the history of Korean Studies in Belgium and further strengthened ENKRS.

ENKRS 2023

The third conference was held in May 2023 at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. With robust support from the Korea Foundation, the ENKRS conference could expand further and diversify in keeping with the continued growth of Korean Studies in Europe.

Under the theme of “Connect, Collect, and Catalogue,” the third conference was focused on strengthening ENKRS for the future advancement of Korean Studies in Europe and growing it to the level of the Committee on Korean Materials (CKM) in North America, the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists, and the European Association of Sinological Librarians. Lee Hyoungbae, the Korean Studies Librarian at Princeton University and the President of the CKM, joined Sung Yunah, the Korean Studies Librarian at the University of Michigan, as external presenters and shared insightful information on Korean Studies materials and Korean Studies materials cataloguing systems. The conference was instrumental in reinforcing the cooperative relationship with CKM.

The focus of discussion for the 2023 conference was on the challenges facing ENKRS members as they supported Korean Studies researchers and the future goals to which ENKRS aspires. Major topics included the distribution of Korean Studies resources among ENKRS members, regular networking between ENKRS and CKM, regular meetings of ENKRS members, ENKRS support for new members, and cooperation with the Association for Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE).

This year’s conference has also provided an impetus to establish a stronger organizational structure for ENKRS. Nadia Kreeft-Mishkovskyi, the Korean Studies Librarian at Universiteit Leiden, was elected as ENKRS’s first President, along with seven board members:

• Nadia Kreeft-Mishkovskyi, University of Leiden (President)

• Youn-hi Hughes, University of Sheffield (co-secretary)

• Arjan van der Werf, KU Leuven (webmaster)

• Ni-Sug No, Collège de France

• Heesun Roh, LCAO Library of Paris Cité University

• Minjeong Shin, Humathèque Condorcet

• Jiyeon Wood, SOAS, University of London

The following diagram summarizes data on conference participants in 2023.


ENKRS 2023 Conference Report

The future of ENKRS

With its next conference slated for May 2024 at the Collège de France, ENKRS continues to be committed to supporting the students, researchers, and scholars in Europe’s Korean Studies community with quality resources by facilitating knowledge and information exchanges in Korean Studies, Korean Studies resource-sharing, support for new Korean Studies librarians, and cooperation with CKM. In addition, efforts will be made to expand interaction and cooperation with Korean Studies librarians in Europe who are not ENKRS members.

ENKRS also plans to cooperate with the Association for Korean Studies in Europe and the British Association for Korean Studies (BAKS) in order to promote the understanding of Korean Studies resources and provide Korean Studies scholars with quality materials.

Through continued cooperation with the European Association of Sinological Librarians and the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists, ENKRS will engage with diverse subject areas and strengthen the position of Korean Studies within the field of regional studies.


ENKRS Board members


Top