Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shopping with Someone Else's Money

One of the best things about this job, so far, has been ordering books for the library. Apparently others don't think so, because I rarely am informed by the system that the book is already in the library. In fact, it's so rare, I don't even bother to check before I track down the four pieces of information I need to order:

  • Title
  • Author's Name
  • Publishing House
  • ISBN (13 character version)

To be fair, it's a new department so no one has been invested in getting appropriate books into the library. On the other hand there are people here who are going to love these books even if they're not in my department. We have foreign students as well as 75 foreign professors on this campus, most of the professors read English and by putting up notes in the elevator as new books arrive I've made quite a few acquaintances who are excited to learn more about Korea through these titles. I should try to prepare a write up for any staff newsletter, as well. I bet some of the foreign-educated, English-fluent Korean professors of other subjects would be interested to see what is written on Korea.

At first I was tentative, only ordering books I knew I could easily justify if anyone accused me of going overboard. I also made very sure to not just order every book on Korean performance (to the neglect of other subjects). As the librarians met my enthusiasm with thanks and their own enthusiasm I began to order more and more books that were farther afield from the canon of classics in Korean Studies. In addition to key theoretical texts, I've ordered some books on Japan, China, and elsewhere in Asia that will be excellent for comparative readings. And happily I followed up on new book announcements on Asia-studies message lists by ordering some that seemed likely to be good. Ahhh, it's so much fun to shop with someone else's money!!!

Although I've now realized that many of my first year students (that I'll have in the spring) will be incapable of actually reading English language scholarship on Korea without exerting great effort (I will be giving them very selective chapters and articles, but probably not assigning any complete books), I have high hopes that by the time they are juniors and seniors that they will be enjoying the many titles in the library and citing them in their assignments, even if they were not specifically assigned those texts. In fact, I should try to maintain an up-to-date listing of the Korean Studies titles in the library so that I can remember what to direct students to find!


Three of these are books I ordered but have not yet read, by academic friends of mine, Theodore Jun Yoo, George Kallander, and Hyung Il Pai. Actually Hyung Il's new book was just barely released and hasn't even arrived yet. I love ordering the latest books!!! And finally "Samulnori" is a book that of course I love and already own, by another academic friend, Nathan Hesselink.

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