The history and holdings of the Library's Asian collections
mirror the growth of American diplomatic involvement, academic
interest, and public attention on Asia from the midnineteenth
century to today. The need for more knowledge of Asia can only
increase in the future, and the Library of Congress will remain
a central repository for all types of Asian publications that
are not broadly available at other locations in the United States.
To meet the needs of the times, the Library is already taking
advantage of the new technologies. The days of the lone adventurer
or scholar seeking out rare books in remote corners of the world
have yielded to more systematic procurement of publications through
field offices and purchasing agents, thus taking full advantage
of modern electronic communications. New technology is opening
the Asian collections to a wider audience. With the Library's
World Wide Web site open to Internet users, it is easy to browse
through the holdings on line. And, as the Library's digital library
develops, more and more rare texts will be accessible to the
growing number of people around the world.
Yet the new technologies do not diminish the accomplishments
of a Caleb Cushing acquiring Chinese classics in 1844 or a Joseph
Rock overseeing the loading of a mule caravan of Tibetan books
in 1926. Their contributions and the efforts of so many others
have made the Library of Congress's Asian collections a unique
and invaluable resource that belongs to the American people.