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Cornell University: Wason Collection on East Asia

General Information

Facility: Cornell University Wason Collection
Address: Kroch Library, Division of Asia Collections, Level 1, Kroch Library, Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: (607) 255-8199
Hours: Hours of operation

About the collection:

East Asian languages began being taught with Chinese in 1944 and Japanese in 1960. However, Cornell University began collecting books on East Asia in 1902. The initial Wason Collection was donated by Charles W. Wason in 1918. At the time of his donation, the collection included approximately 9,000 volumes.

Soon after Wason's donation, William Eliot Griffis also donated over 6,000 volumes of Japanese-language works, including books, periodicals, and maps. Since, Japanese-language acquisitions have been a focus of the collection.

For more information on the Japanese collection, please contact David McKee at 607-255-4357 or by email or Liren Zheng at 607-255-5759 or by email.


Is a list of approximately a dozen databases providing access for Cornell University Japan Studies students, faculty, and staff, including Japan Knowledge, Lexis Nexis Law Japan, and more. Most are subscription databases avaiable only to affiliated and registered users.  

A collection of 15 English-language databases for Asian Studies that Cornell University provides access to.

Originating from several institutions both in America and Japan, the Global Performing Arts Consortium was created in 1997 by Karen Brazell to utilize new technologies to provide global access to a wide range of diverse performing arts. With a background in Japan-related research, Brazell's emphasis for the database was primarily Japanese peforming arts. American, Chinese, and Russian performing arts are also represented in the database.

GloPAD, the consortium's database, includes multilingual authority records, digital images, texts, video clips, sound recordings, and complex media objects, all related to the international performing arts.

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Summary of Collections

Collection size: as of January 2014 the Wason Collection contained over 600,000 volumes of which 147,000 are in Japanese. The Wason Japanese Collection is particularly strong in pre-1600 history, premodern literature, 19th century literature, performing arts, and popular culture.

Notable collections:

  • William Eliot Griffis Collection: In the early twentieth century, William Eliot Griffis donated approximately 6,000 titles to the library, including books, periodicals, and maps. Griffis was instrumental in the late nineteenth century to modern science education in Japan.


Online catalog:

Online Resources

A list of freely available websites for Japanese Studies compiled by Cornell University faculty and staff, including full text databases, Japanese government-supported websites, maps, GIS data, museums, image databases, newspapers, statistical data, online dictionaries, and more.

A collection of resources in English, this includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, catalogs, bibliographies, indexes, atlases, statistical sources, and more.

A list of research aids supported or provided by Cornell University, these include a citation manager, an introduction to research, library guides, and more.

How to Use the Facility

Browsing and Borrowing Privileges

The majority of the libraries at Cornell University are freely accessible by the public. Restricted databases are all accessible from on-site, public access terminals. The majority of library materials are shelved in open stack areas, which are accessible by visitors. Some areas may be restricted for unregistered patrons. Access to items housed in special collections may be requested at the holding library. For more information, please see the Visitor Privileges webpage.

Cornell University libraries offer borrowing privileges to qualifying individuals, which include visiting faculty and scholars, Cornell University alumni, New York State residents, SUNY students and faculty, and Columbia University students and faculty. For the full list of qualifying individuals, please see the Guest Borrowers page. For students, faculty, and staff affiliated with other academic institutions, Cornell University requests that materials be borrowed through the interlibrary loan system.

Photocopying and Scanning Privileges

Photocopiers and scanners are available in most libraries at Cornell University, and are usable for a small fee or per-page charge. Payment options include cash, credit card, or copy card.

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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