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UC San Diego Librarian Named
‘2008 Mover & Shaker’ in Library Journal

IR/PS Librarian Jim Cheng Lauded
for Building Unparalleled Collection of East Asian Films

May 5, 2008

By Dolores Davies

Jim Cheng, head librarian for the University of California, San Diego’s International Relations & Pacific Studies (IR/PS) Library, has been named a “2008 Mover & Shaker ” by the Library Journal (LJ) for his innovative work in developing  an unprecedented  Asian film collection and  festival and symposium series.

Photo of Jim Cheng
Jim Cheng
Illustration of Movers and Shakers

Cheng was one of only 50 librarians at institutions across the nation described by LJ as “The people shaping the future of libraries.” Cheng initiated a multi-year Asian film festival in 2003, when he realized that East Asian studies professors at UC San Diego were increasingly using popular media for research and teaching.  Cheng’s now-renowned collection (which is comprised of posters as well as films) includes underground Chinese films as well as films from both South and North Korea, Japan and films focusing on the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

“Thanks to Jim Cheng’s diligence, dedication , and passion, the UC San Diego Libraries have built the best collection of Chinese underground and independent films in the world, including China itself,” said UC San Diego historian Paul Pickowicz, one of the world’s top authorities on Chinese cinema. “In the field of Chinese film studies, UC San Diego is the envy of the entire scholarly community.  We are light years ahead. “

This year’s film festival, which was held in January, broke new diplomatic as well as cinematic ground. Korea, North & South:  A Cinematic Perspective, was the first North American Korean film festival dedicated to films from the Republic of Korea (South) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North).  The films were accompanied by lectures and panel discussions by film directors, producers and scholars, and attracted a number of high-level government representatives from both South and North Korea.

Last year’s festival and symposium, which focused on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, brought back memories for Cheng, who was sent with his parents, both scientists, to the Chinese countryside in 1964.  Cheng, who arrived in the U.S. as a graduate student  in 1986 with only $60 in his pocket, has served as head of UC San Diego’s IR/PS Library since 2002.

“I am very proud of being a librarian and love my profession so it’s truly an honor to be recognized in this way,” said Cheng.  “As librarians, we are helping to shape the future while preserving the past of human civilization.  I am grateful to UC San Diego for giving me the opportunity to build these important film collections and share them with our academic community and the world.”

Cheng and his fellow 2008 honorees will be feted at the American Library Association’s luncheon in Anaheim, CA on June 27, 2008.

The IR/PS Library, one of nine libraries at UC San Diego, is an essential intellectual resource for East Asian scholars and students and the university’s School of International Relations & Pacific Studies (IR/PS), the only school of international affairs in the UC system and the only school of its kind to focus on the Pacific Rim region.  The school is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

With nearly 3.5 million print and digital resources in its collections, the UCSD Libraries are the largest academic library system south of Los Angeles. Comprising 9 distinct libraries ranging from art and oceanography to biomedicine and special collections, the UCSD Libraries rank in the top 25 U.S. public libraries among the members of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries.


Media Contact: Dolores Davies, 858-534-0667

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