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 East Asian Library director Peter Zhou, Chancellor Birgeneau, and former San Francisco Examiner publisher Florence Fang showed off an artist's rendering of the new library, under construction. (Peg Skorpinski photo)

Florence Fang gift helps the East Asian Library take shape

| 01 November 2006

Florence Fang, former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, has donated $3 million to the campus, closing the funding gap for construction of the new C.V. Starr East Asian Library and Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies.

The four-story, $51 million center taking shape in the middle of campus will bring together Berkeley's vast resources and programs in East Asian Studies, which currently are scattered in various locations across campus. The facility has been totally funded by private donations.

When it opens in fall 2007, the library will be the first freestanding building ever constructed on an American university campus for East Asian collections, underscoring Berkeley's long-term commitment to East Asia and the academic stature of East Asian studies here. The central study area in the new library will be named the Florence Lee Fang Reading Room.

At a news conference, Chancellor Birgeneau said the new facility "will no doubt encourage and inspire scholarship, drawing students and scholars from across the campus and the world."

"More than 40 years ago, I came to the United States as a new bride," said Fang. "In this land, I started my family, my business, and my dream. America adopted me and gave me a good opportunity to fulfill my dream. It is time to give back."

The East Asian Library, which traces its origin to 1898, offers one of the nation's two most comprehensive collections of East Asian materials outside of the Library of Congress. Holdings number nearly 900,000 pieces: books, serials, maps, rubbings, manuscripts, and non-print materials. Portions of the collection are unparalleled outside East Asia.

"UC Berkeley has been collecting East Asian materials for over 100 years," said Peter Zhou, director of the East Asian Library. "Its collection is one of the largest and richest outside of Asia. We hope that the new Starr Library will enhance our performance as a learning center, a research center, and a cultural center."

The architectural firm for the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, designed it to be harmonious with the neoclassical core of the campus as designed by John Galen Howard in the 1910s and '20s.