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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC): News

Ask a Librarian: A Discussion of Alternative Careers in Japanese Studies

by Tara McGowan on 2020-02-14T10:58:00-05:00 | Comments

Don't miss this exciting Roundtable Session in Boston next month!

Organized by Ayako Yoshimura (University of Chicago) and Rebecca Corbett (University of Southern California), discussants include Regan Murphy Kao (Stanford University) and Ann Marie Davis (The Ohio State University).

Time and Place:


9:00 AM - 10:45 AM

Location: Sheraton: Fairfax B, 3rd Floor


Whether or not talk of the "Death of Japan Studies" is exaggerated, a Ph.D. in the humanities does bring with it concerns over the extent to which it prepares one for a practical career. Now is the time for Japanese Studies to consider alternative careers as a means of sustaining the field and proving its merit. In this roundtable four Japanese Studies librarians will address how their doctoral degrees (in the diverse fields of religion, history, and folklore) have led to satisfying and stimulating (and, given their training, non-traditional) roles within academia. Because doctoral-level expertise was vital to their landing their current positions, they present librarianship as an example of an alternative-academic career by sharing their own experiences (why they decided to pursue librarianship, which skills from their graduate programs transfer readily to academic librarianship, and how they continue their scholarly research alongside library work).

Kao will explain how her Ph.D. helped to prepare her for building special collections and identifying rare materials within the existing collection, as well as for developing a web archiving initiative. Corbett will discuss how her work as historian and librarian intersect in building collections and programs to support the study of pre-modern Japanese history, religion, and culture. Davis will recount her transition from history professor to faculty librarian, and describe the broad impact and multifaceted nature of her position as project coordinator, educator, curator, and manager of unique collections at a large land-grant university. Yoshimura will relate how librarianship enables her to fulfill her commitment to community outreach as a public folklorist while she remains active in material culture research. 

This roundtable will be a first effort to address the need for broad and creative thinking in assessing graduate training and career opportunities in area studies. The discussants will share their ideas about incorporating--for example--library internships and exhibit curating into the practical training of graduate students, the better to equip them for a wider range of professions. Attendees are invited to contribute thoughts on how to train students to exploit their knowledge and skills in professions other than university teaching.

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