Due to the support of two OHIO librarians, a rare Indonesian newspaper previously only available at Alden Library has now been microfilmed by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and will be more widely available.
According to their website, “CRL supports original research and inspired teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences by preserving and making available to scholars a wealth of rare and uncommon primary sources materials from all world regions.”
Jeff Ferrier, curator for the Center for International Collections, and Yan He, the former curator of the Dr. Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Center, presented the idea for microfilming the Indonesian newspaper, Harian Hidup Baru, which is written in the Chinese language, at a meeting of the Association for Asian Studies and the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA). Their proposal was accepted and funded by the Southeast Asia Materials Project (SEAM), which since 1970 has worked to secure funding, preserve important scholarly resources, and improve access to research materials related to Southeast Asia for member institutions.
“We were the only library in the country that had it at all,” Ferrier said.
He explained that CRL gathers rare and important research materials like journals and newspapers from around the world that are not often accessible to scholars.
This newspaper is rare because it was a Chinese-language publication, which was banned in Indonesia under the rule of President Suharto, who was in power from 1967 to 1998. Harian Hidup Baru was started after the fall of President Suharto, and Ferrier said the suppression of the Chinese press in Indonesia makes this newspaper even more valuable as a primary source for studying the Chinese community there.
“It’s important to give a sense of their community, their way of life, some of the things that they’re concerned with, especially because there was a period when they were restricted and didn’t have visibility,” he said. “There weren’t Chinese language schools. There weren’t newspapers in their own language.”
The newspaper was previously only available at OHIO. Now, the microfilms are available through CRL for researchers anywhere to request.
“In the past, you would have had to actually visit Ohio University and look at the physical papers. Now if I’m a researcher, and I read Chinese and I’m interested in Indonesian history, I don’t have to drive to Athens, Ohio,” Ferrier said.
He said microfilming the newspapers is also a way to ensure that they can be preserved for researchers far into the future.
OHIO Libraries’ extensive Southeast Asia Collection is one of the largest collections in North America, and by collaborating with the Center for Research Libraries, those materials can now help a larger audience accomplish their research goals and learn more about the history and culture of that region.