By CHARLYNN SPENCER PYNE
On Monday, May 21, Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum signed a historic agreement with Moon Yong Joo, librarian of the National Assembly Library of Korea (NAL), that gives researchers at the Library of Congress direct online access to NAL's digital library—nearly 5 million bibliographic entries, abstracts and indexes, in addition to 1 million items pointing to full-text databases. In exchange, the Library of Congress will provide NAL with a full set of U.S. Government Printing Office publications in hard copy.
"This year marks the 125th anniversary of relations between Korea and the United States, which makes this agreement particularly meaningful," said Youngsim Leigh, a senior acquisitions specialist in the Library's African/Asian Acquisitions and Overseas Operations Division (AFA/OVOP). Leigh, who led the effort to craft the agreement, worked with a team that included James Gentner, acting chief of AFA/OVOP; Don Panzera, chief of the European and Latin American Acquisitions Division; Joe Molnar, head of the Australia/Canada/Ireland/New Zealand/United Kingdom Section, Anglo-American Acquisitions Division (ANAD); Richard Yarnall, head of the Government Documents Section, ANAD; and Sonya Lee, reference specialist in the Korean Section of the Library of Congress's Asian Division.
Leigh said, "It is very important that we let students, researchers and scholars know that this very valuable resource is available here at the Library." The NAL Digital Library, a Korean-language resource, is available to Asian Division, Federal Research Division and Law Library customers. The agreement allows for 15 Library customers to access the databases simultaneously. According to Leigh, the only other library outside of Korea with access to the NAL Digital Library is at the University of Southern California.
The signing ceremony at the Library of Congress capped more than two years of work by Leigh and her team. Leigh first learned about the availability of the NAL Digital Library at the annual meeting of the Council on East Asian Libraries held in Chicago, Ill., March 28–April 3, 2005.
"Although I knew that it would not be easy to justify a second official exchange partner for Korea—the National Library of Korea was already a partner with the Library of Congress—I felt encouraged because an exchange agreement with NAL would be the first step in modeling the International Electronic Exchange Pilot Project (IEX) that Don Panzera initiated in October . Beacher Wiggins [director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access] gave us permission to pursue the agreement in May 2005."
Gentner was fully supportive of Leigh's idea. "I knew that a mutually beneficial agreement with NAL depended on Youngsim's personal tact and deep knowledge of Korean government and culture," he said.
Panzera explained that he proposed IEX "because the evidence is clear and continuing to mount that our traditional international exchange program requires an overhaul if it is to support 21st century collection development. Our hard copy official exchange receipts—that is, materials received from government agencies in other countries in exchange for publications of U.S. government agencies—have decreased by two-thirds since 1994, as foreign government documents change from print to electronic format; and GPO publications in digital format are now accessible to anyone anywhere in the world via GPO's Access Web site, making traditional exchange programs less attractive to our international partners."
Wiggins commented, "The agreement between the Library of Congress and NAL is a great step forward. Official exchange programs allow the Library of Congress to leverage its resources to build the best possible collection for its users. But library researchers increasingly turn first to materials in digital form, and materials provided by other government libraries are no exception. This agreement enables the Library to provide its onsite users with direct access to digitized Korean sources and to reinvigorate its official exchange programs with government agencies around the world."
Charlynn Spencer Pyne is a program specialist in the Center for the Book.