James Lin Receives Sixteenth Annual Ishimoto Award

Nancy Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College; James Lin, Head of Technical Services in the Harvard- Yenching Library and recipient of this year's Ishimoto Award; and James Cheng, Librarian of Harvard-Yenching Library.

December 12, 2006 - James Lin, Head of Technical Services in the Harvard-Yenching Library, is the recipient of this year's Carol Ishimoto Award for Distinguished Service in the Harvard College Library.

An endowment established in 1991 by Carol Ishimoto, former Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Cataloging and Processing, annually provides a cash award and citation for creative professional achievement of a high order. The award recognizes a member of the professional staff who has advanced the mission of the College Library through exceptional contributions and leadership.

Lin was selected as this year’s honoree in recognition of his exemplary leadership of technical services at Harvard-Yenching during the last ten years and his unwavering "can-do" attitude throughout all of the major projects he and his team have undertaken.

"All in all, the Harvard-Yenching Library has been transformed," said James Cheng, Librarian of Harvard-Yenching. "Many of the improvements within the last few years are a direct result of the achievements made in the technical services division. They represent the hard work and dedication of the entire Harvard-Yenching Library staff in general, and they represent the leadership of James Lin."

When Lin arrived at Harvard-Yenching in 1997, the library had a 65,000 volume cataloging backlog of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean materials. Chinese materials acquired within the previous ten years were neither known or accessible to users. Under Lin’s guidance, this sizable backlog was eliminated within four years. He also took over and completed the five-year CJK retrospective conversion project that began just prior to his arrival. The project converted the library’s card catalogs, which dated back to 1928, to OCLC-CJK. Under his direction, the project was completed on time and within budget, and some 500,000 CJK bibliographic records are now available in HOLLIS and OCLC.

It was also Lin who, when the Library of Congress decided to phase out the traditional Wade-Giles Romanization system for Chinese bibliographic records in favor of the Pinyin system, worked closely with OIS so that Harvard-Yenching would comply with national requirements. As the library carefully converted all of its online bibliographic records, Lin carefully guided his staff in the cleanup of inconsistencies.

Lin also led his team in the completion of analytical cataloging of the library’s approximately 2,200 Chinese "big sets," each of which has hundreds of subtitles. In response to faculty requests, Lin successfully managed a three-year project to catalog each embedded subtitle, as well as to create additional access and searching points to these titles in HOLLIS. This work has benefited researchers around the globe, making it possible for users to locate the thousands of individual titles within these sets.

Through mentoring and workshops, Lin has improved the quality of cataloging at Harvard-Yenching to the extent that it is now designated by the Library of Congress as a full member in the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Last but not least, to better organize the stacks and make collections more easily accessible, he supervised the transfer of materials to the Harvard Depository, which Harvard-Yenching previously did not use. Now, HD is a regular part of the collection management program.

"The changes that have been accomplished through Mr. Lin's leadership in technical services are evident to all those who regularly use the Harvard-Yenching Library, whether they are carrying out their research on-site or remotely," said Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. "All library services, including reference, course reserves, circulation and interlibrary loans, are dependent upon the quality and effectiveness of its technical services. Mr. Lin has successfully led several major projects that have greatly improved scholars' access to East Asian materials on a world-wide scale and at the same time he has continued to refine local procedures to get items into the hands of students and faculty as promptly as possible."

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