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UC Merced Library Debuts Virtual Showcase for Japanese Art

June 22, 2007

A unique collaboration between the University of California,
Merced Library and The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture
gives the entire world access to more than a millennium of Japanese
art via the Internet. On Friday, June 22, the UC Merced Library
will unveil the online collection, eventually to present over 1,000
original works of art, and will give a hands-on demonstration to
explain the digitization process and showcase the digital images.

The cornerstone of the new virtual art gallery is the unique
collection of Japanese art at The Clark Center for Japanese Art and
Culture in Hanford, California. The Center houses one of the more
significant collections of Japanese art and the largest collection
of Nanga (Southern-style) paintings, calligraphy and related
research materials in the United States. The collection includes
screen and scroll paintings, sculptures, prints, ceramics,
textiles, metalwork and woven bamboo art, with works dating from
the tenth century to the present day.

Since 1995, the Clark Center has provided a research facility
for visiting scholars. Now, with high-quality digital images
enhanced with searchable metadata produced by the UC Merced
Library, the art collection is available to anyone with an Internet connection.

“It has always been one of my greatest pleasures to share the
art that we have collected with others,” said Bill Clark, the
Center’s founder. “Now, access to the Center’s permanent collection
will become available to everyone in the world. This is the kind of
power that the collaboration between a museum and a cutting-edge
institution such as UC Merced can wield.”

An important part of the UC Merced Library’s vision is the
development of digital special collections with an emphasis on
collections of importance to the Central Valley. The library was
able to turn this vision into reality by using a National
Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
to digitize the Clark Center’s collection.

Digital Assets Librarian Emily Lin and her team used the
library’s command of technology to create high resolution digital
images of the collection. These digital images are organized into
searchable collections and are available to the entire world via
the Internet. Lin has created digital images for 1,100 objects over
the course of the project, and 655 of these digital objects are now
available online.

The University of California’s California Digital Library,
through Calisphere (
and the Online Archive of California (,
provides the technical backbone for hosting, preserving and
providing access to the online art collection. Lin said this effort
is unique because it represents the first collection that was
created by collaboration between a UC library and an outside entity.

The goal of the online collection is to provide researchers,
students and the public a broader understanding of Japanese art,
culture and history from virtually anywhere and at any time.

“As a new model for research libraries, the UC Merced Library is
focused on providing access to research materials regardless of
their physical location,” said University Librarian R. Bruce
Miller. “The creation of this digital collection demonstrates our
commitment to being a world-class research library.”

Although the initial phase has been completed, the
partnership between the two institutions will be ongoing, and they
will continue to add to the digital collection.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with UC Merced
in the future, on similar projects that will be of benefit to
students and researchers on a global scale,” Clark said.

Anyone can access the collection from the Special Collections
link on the UC Merced Library Web site (
). For more information on the Clark
Center for Japanese Art and Culture, visit
http://ccjac.orgor call (559) 582-4915.

UC Merced opened September 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the
University of California system and the first American research
university of the 21st century. The campus significantly expands
access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a
special mission to increase college-going rates among students in
the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced
research and as a stimulus to economic growth and diversification
throughout the region. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the
university is expected to grow rapidly, topping out at
approximately 25,000 students within 30 years.

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