About Ximin Mi

Ximin Mi is a second year GSLIS graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Right now she is working at two departments of the university library as a graduate assistant: Research Reference and Scholarly Services, and International and Area Studies Library. Her academic interests lie in reference, instruction, and data analysis. She is passionate to explore the new roles libraries will play in academia and community. Most of her blog posts discuss how the roles libraries play in society change, and how these changes are affected and affecting the society.

The Innovative Digital Public Library of America

Following a growing trend of digital portal libraries, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) website launched in April 2013. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University leads this ambitious project, which was sparked by an October 2012 meeting of forty leaders from libraries, foundations, academia, and technology projects. Starting from 2011, the Berkman Center took a two-year period to bring together hundreds of public and research librarians, innovators, digital humanists, and other volunteers helped to scope, design, and construct the DPLA. The project aims to collaborate online resources to create “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future  generations.”[2]

The freshly initiated DPLA project has a larger than 2 million collection contributed by 18 American archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions to provide free access to students, teachers, scholars, and the public. They are hoping to get more partners as the project grows along.

DPLA is also features an innovative search portal. The portal provides special features like a map, a timeline, and several apps to improve discovery and creation. The map function shows the locations of items from a search request if the metadata records provide the location information. The timeline allows users to visually browse search results by year or decade. And the apps provide access to applications and tools created by external developers using DPLA’s open data. Thus, users of the Digital Public Library of America can create their own apps to browse the collection. These new features make DPLA more intuitive and visual.

In addition to its innovative display of search results, DPLA also creates a nationwide hub program: DPLA Digital Hubs Program. This network is supported by its more than forty state and regional digital libraries with their collections and services. These partners share their 250,000 metadata records resolving to digital objects, including online texts, photographs, manuscript materials, art work, etc. They also maintain and edit these records to keep them up to date. Furthermore, these state or regional digital libraries also offer their state or regional partners standardized digital services, ranging from digitization, metadata creation data aggregation and and storage. They also promote the digital collections locally to bring in more local users.

Specific hub lists can be found here: http://dp.la/info/about/who/partners/hubs/.

The University of Illinois Library is part of this new initiative. We have contributed more than 16,000 items and metadata for 15 of our digital collections to the DPLA, including the Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design, Portraits of Actors, 1720-1920, Historical Maps Online, and the Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image Library.  We are also one of the content hubs. We hope to contribute more in the future. DPLA gives both our library and the users more accessibility to share our collection. If you want more information of this project, please check their website at http://dp.la/.

Update: On June 18, 2013, the HathiTrust partnered with the DPLA “to expand discovery and use of HathiTrust’s public domain and other openly available content.”[5]

Other Digital Library Portals:

Europeana: http://europeana.eu/

World Digital Library: http://www.wdl.org/en/

The European Library (which Christina John posted about in January 2013): http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/


[1] Digital Public Library of America. http://dp.la/.

[2] Digital Public Library of American. History. http://dp.la/info/about/history/

[3] Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Launches Today. Berkman Center for Internet and Society. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/8282.

[4] Digital Public Library of America. Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Public_Library_of_America.

[5] HathiTrust to partner with DPLA. DPLA Blog. http://dp.la/info/2013/06/18/hathitrust-to-partner-with-dpla/

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Window of Shanghai, Window for the World

Window of Shanghai’ is a Chinese book donation program launched by the Shanghai Library, and supported by the Shanghai Government. This program aims to introduce Chinese culture and promote Shanghai’s presence to the outside world through donating Chinese or China-related publications.

Window of Shanghai program launching in Latvia

Window of Shanghai program launching in Latvia

Right now the Shanghai Library has 122 libraries and 22 information institutes participating in its book donation program. Most of the participants are public and academic libraries in Shanghai’s sister cities. Every donation program consists of two phases. The first phase lasts  one year, and  500 books donated to participating libraries. The second phase is the next two years, when 100 books are donated annually. After the first three years, these international partners can apply for a project extension based on an assessment of the successful operation of the program. With a successful assessment, the international partner could sign a memorandum of cooperation with Shanghai Library to extend the donation. Shanghai Library is hoping to acquire more international partners for the program.

The gift books are recent publications that have been published in the past five years. The subjects of these books include: history, business and economics, folk arts, customs and traditions, politics, sociology, literature, travel, traditional medicine, language studies, and popular science.  Most books are published by Chinese publishing houses in either Chinese or English, or bilingual.  Some other languages are also available including French, German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese and Korean. If the partner libraries have difficulties cataloging donated books in Chinese, the Shanghai Library can share its ready catalog records.

New donation books

New donation books

The Window of Shanghai has two potential reader groups: overseas Chinese and international readers. It tries to connect overseas Chinese with their mother language and culture. At the same time, introduces international readers to China and Shanghai through the latest Chinese publications.

As one of many Chinese Culture Communication and Promotion programs, Window of Shanghai aims to introduce Chinese culture and society with its partners. At the same time, it is also a great opportunity to share with the partner libraries Chinese library system and operation.

Embassy of People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Latvia. http://lv.china-embassy.org/eng/xwdt/t868605.htm.

Shanghai Library. http://windowofshanghai.library.sh.cn/Default.aspx?tabid=71&language=en-US&id=135.

The Window of Shanghai. http://www.white-clouds.com/iclc/cliej/cl21WS.htm.

Window of Shanghai website. http://windowofshanghai.library.sh.cn/.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Bollywood 100 years

Bollywood is the informal, and sometimes controversial, term used for the Hindi-language film industry. The term is controversial because it comes with the implication that the Hindi film industry is a [poor] imitation of Hollywood and also because it is often incorrectly used to refer to the entire Indian film industry. In fact, Hindi cinema has a long history and has its own unique set of aesthetics and conventions.

The Indian film industry started in the early 20th century. The country’s first silent feature full-length film, Raja Harishchandra, was produced in 1913 by film pioneer Dhundiraj Govind Phalke. Modern Bollywood began in 1931 with India’s first sound film, Alam Ara.[i] During the 1930s and 40s, the Indian film industry was suppressed by the Great Depression, but in 1946-1955 Bollywood saw its golden age. As Indian won its independence from British in 1947, film producers were kindled by the passion of a free new nation to build their own film industry. They threw off the restraints of the British studio system to take the reins of their own cinema.[ii]

The expansion of television in the 1980s was a major blow to the Hindi film industry, just like film industries across the world. To survive the spread of television, Hindi cinema focused on producing spectacle that small screens cannot achieve. Entering the new millennium, Bollywood produces an increasing quantity of films. Right now Bollywood is the film base that is producing the largest number of films around the world, ranging from 800-1000. It also sells the largest number of tickets.

Throughout Bollywood’s 100 years’ history, it produced numerous high quality and successful films. Some best known Bollywood films of all time are: Salaam Bombay! (1988), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Devdas (2002), Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Veer Zaara (2004), 3 Idiots (2009), etc. Among the mainstream films, Lagaan (2002) won the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards, while Devdas and Rang De Basanti (2006) were both nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[iii]



The best known Bollywood film genres are musicals and dramas. Recent musicals combine traditional Indian dance and singing with some western style dance, including Broadway and MTV’s music videos. The drama films have some preset plots, usually a mixture of star-crossed lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences.[iv]

Bollywood’s influence on Indian people’s life cannot be overemphasized. Both its popular music and fashion industry are driven by films, for instance the film Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!(1994) transformed the nation’s wedding attire.[v]

Bollywood films are popular across the South Asian sub-continent, including the countries of Bengal, Nepal, and Pakistan. They are also popular among the Persian Gulf countries, some South African countries, Russia, and gaining increasing popularity in U.S and U.K.

If you want to check out Bollywood movies for yourself, you can browse the Library’s collection of Hindi film (with English subtitles) in the Undergraduate Media Collection. Click here to browse them.


[i] Bamzai, Kaveree. Bollywood Today. New Delhi : Lustre Press, Roli Books 2007.

[ii] Bamzai, Kaveree. Bollywood Today. New Delhi : Lustre Press, Roli Books 2007. P15.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

The Japanese Rare Books Collection at Illinois

The Japanese rare books collection is an important part of the Asian rare books collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The great majority of Japanese rare books came from the library of Joseph K. Yamagiwa (1906-1968).  Professor Yamagiwa was a leading scholar and professor of Japanese at the University of Michigan. His collection was purchased by our university in 1969. This collection contained 1800 volumes, which was later divided between the Asian Library and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The current Japanese rare book collection was built upon it.


With some later purchases and donation, our university library is currently 200 volumes of Japanese rare books. The subjects cover a variety of fields from literature (including Nara Ehon), theater, history, maps, scrolls, to dictionaries and encyclopedias. Most of these books and manuscripts are printed between the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Nara Ehon

This summer the Japanese rare book collection gained a new piece, Ise Monogatari. It also marked the 13-millionth book of the university and maintains our status as the largest public university library in America.  This edition of the Ise Monogatari was published in 1608 and is the first printed illustrated edition of the popular Ise Monogatari or Tales of Ise).  This book is one of the earliest Japanese books printed with moveable type, a technique newly imported from Korea. The elegant type and delicate woodcuts of the Saga-bon Tales of Ise appear on five different hand-made colored papers.[1]

Ise Monogatari

Besides their historical and scholarly value, this collection also serves as a communication bridge to visiting scholars from Japan. Despite their high value, our Rare Book and Manuscript Library pleasantly welcomes people to come in and use these materials. If you are interested in them, come to the library.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr