From crossroads to breakthroughs


Connecting users to knowledge and helping them achieve their learning goals is a major reason why we become librarians. And being part of a community that helps us do that is inspiring and energizing. Recently, at the National Taiwan University, I was part of a significant breakthrough of historical documents, which was made possible by library cooperation.

Building community to share our stories

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the eighth annual APRC membership meeting. It was so good to see nearly 260 attendees from 22 countries in Hong Kong for two days to discuss “Libraries at the Crossroads.” The meeting was a first-class event, with outstanding speakers, lively discussions and engaged members, all within a beautiful venue, the Harbour Grand Hotel. Follow this hashtag #OCLCHK16 to view some of the images and posts from the meeting.

Our membership meetings are always exciting. They provide an opportunity for our community across the Asia Pacific region to share experiences and get to know each other. It is also an opportunity for member libraries from around the region to explore and discuss trends that are shaping the future of the profession.

During the meeting, we shared a story about the power of library cooperation and a breakthrough in historical archives at my library at the National Taiwan University.

Connecting generations with historical documents

During World War II, many unique Japanese historical documents were destroyed. One of these was the Rekidai Hoan, a record of more than 400 years of diplomatic correspondence. The Rekidai Hoan was thought lost forever until a copy was discovered in a Taiwanese library in 1985 and shared with the world.

Sharing knowledge can connect us all in unexpected and wonderful ways. Click To Tweet

Now that document is available to current and future generations to help others at their individual and shared crossroads.

It is a tribute to library cooperation that an important historical collection from an Okinawa library was copied, saved and eventually shared with the world by librarians in Taiwan. It represents a bridge between generations, countries and conflicts. And it demonstrates that the preservation and sharing of knowledge can connect us all in unexpected and wonderful ways. You can get the full story by watching the video below.

Guest contributor Hsueh-hua Chen is Professor of Library and Information Science and former University Librarian, National Taiwan University, and a Global Council Delegate for the Asia Pacific Regional Council.

If you’d like to share a story about a breakthrough at your library, contact us at and your library could be the subject of a future video.