The history of the East Asian Library goes back a long time. In 1933, the Rev. William C. White, former Anglican Bishop of Henan, China, heard of a fine Chinese library for sale. It consisted of about 40,000 volumes collected by a scholar Mr. Mu Hsueh Hsun (1880 - 1929). He was the former secretary at the German Legation in Peking. Bishop White immediately put in an offer of $10,500 which was accepted. Then Bishop White, Dr. Sigmund Samuel, Sir Robert Mond, and Professor John C. Ferguson put together a donation for the purchase of the library. The Mu Collection was catalogued in Peking. It reached Toronto in 1935. This marked the beginning of the Chinese collection.
Later on, large grants were obtained from the Carnegie Corporation and Mellon Foundation to further develop and expand the collection. The library with its integrated collections became the East Asiatic Studies Library in 1961, with holdings totalling 60,000 volumes. Raymond Chu became the first librarian in charge of the library.
In the same year, the foundation for the Japanese collection was laid with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Canada Council. The Donner Canadian Foundation also donated $20,000 for the further development and strengthening of the Japanese collection. Through the Dealers Selection Order System, the library was also able to acquire all new books published in Japan that were important to teaching and research at the University. In 1974, the library moved to its current quarters and became part of the University of Toronto Central Library System. Anna U was appointed Head of the library and she renamed it the East Asian Library.
In 1979, the Korean Collection was established with a grant from the Korean Research Foundation in Seoul, Korea. As Korean programs at the University expanded, the collection was also enlarged. In the late 1980s the Foundation for the Support of Korean Studies at the University of Toronto pledged a total $100,000 to assist the library in more active acquisition of Korean research materials.
As the library grew and expanded at great speed, space and facilities for consultation and service became inadequate. In 1987, Dr. Cheng Yu-tung donated 1.5 million dollars targeted for the expansion and renovation of a new East Asian Library. Work to expand space and improve library facilities began in June 1990, and renovation was completed in the spring of 1991.
On July 11, 1991, the East Asian Library was named Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library to recognize the especially significant contribution and dedicated support of Dr. Cheng for the improvement and expansion of the library.
The library is a major resource for East Asian studies in North America, and is among the very active in many interlibrary co-operative East Asian research projects. In 1996, with funds from the previous Cheng Yu Tung donation and a gift from the Japan World Exposition Commemorative Fund, the library built and completed the East Asian Current Resources Centre in 1998 to house serials and other current resources.
In 1997 following extensive negotiation by the East Asian Library, the small and elite North American Korean Collection Consortium accepted the Cheng Yu Tung Library, the only Canadian library into its North American consortium. The exclusive membership in the cooperative acquisition program, sponsored by the Korea Foundation with annual funding of US$20,000, has enabled the library to acquire rich resources needed to support special areas of Korean scholarship.
Since 1990, the library saw many developments and technological innovation and expansion. The automated catalogue replaced the card catalogue in 1990. In 1992 loan services were automated. In 1994, as part of the library's major multi-year planning, public catalogue terminals were replaced by PC's to support not only access to bibliographic catalogue information, but e-mail, communication, searching the web and the internet. In 1996, the East Asian web library was created, and later expanded to include web-based services and many electronic and internet resources.
In 1999, an experimental laboratory facility to support the reading and writing of East Asian scripts in e-mail and word-processing was installed in the Current Resources Centre. 6 computers were installed to support faculty and students using CJK scripts in electronic communication and research. They are also used for library teaching and instructional activities as well. In 2001, EASIC, The East Asian Studies Internet Courseware was developed with the help of the Universitys technology initiative funding award. Since then activities related to the teaching and learning of East Asian Studies have been greatly facilitated. At the same time, spear-headed by the Research Libraries global Pinyin Project, the North America East Asian libraries also made a collective decision to move forward from the Wade-giles romanization system to the globally accessible Pinyin system in the RLG union database. This historic step forward has helped to increase international library cooperation and support for China Studies Scholarship. The UTL local Pinyin conversion began in 2004 and will continue until all records in the local system are converted.
In 2005, LG Electronics, a privately owned cooperation, donated US$27,000 to help the library begin an endowment for the development of Korean electronic resources. This generous action by LG Electronics was significant in enabling the library to move in the right direction toward supporting a fast growing program of Korea Studies at the University.
The Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library continues to hold its place among the major East Asian research libraries in North America. In fulfilling its role as a leading East Asian resource centre in the nation, the library is deeply indebted to its many supporters and donors.