Eastlib; listserv; CEAL; East Asian librarianship; digital humanities; electronic mailing list


The Eastlib listserv, established by the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL) as its official mailing list in the early 1990s and hosted at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill until the end of May 2022, has been the primary communication channel for East Asian librarians in North America for nearly 30 years. In 1999, Eastlib’s functionality was enhanced to allow its subscribers and the general public to browse and search through email discussions online. However, due to unanticipated system setting changes, it was discovered in March 2020 that access to the online Eastlib archive was limited to postings from the previous 90 days, resulting in the loss of past Eastlib messages from 1999 to December 2019. In the summer of 2020, CEAL formed a task force to collect lost emails and rebuild the Eastlib archive. The taskforce gathered over 9,000 emails posted on Eastlib between 1995 and 2020, forming a massive archive of email messages documenting the evolution of East Asian librarianship over the last twenty-five years, an era marked by the rapid growth of digital technology, discipline scholarship, and societal changes in both the United States and East Asia. Employing Excel index and match array formula, OpenRefine, Orange data mining, and other data cleaning and analysis methods and tools, this paper intends to conduct an in-depth analysis of this vast archive of emails, so as to trace the historical development of East Asian librarianship through these unstructured correspondences, and examine trends, challenges, and changes in the field. It also attempts to review the use and effectiveness of the listserv as a primary communication tool for the CEAL community, with a particular focus on how the global pandemic may have affected East Asian librarians’ communications.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.