The Books-for-China Project

By John T. Ma

On March 26, 2007, some workers of EP Enterprises Holding, Inc. in Brooklyn, New York loaded about 20,000 books into a container to be shipped to Qingdao, China. This is the third container of books sent to China by the Books-for-China project. The Ocean University of China at Qingdao is responsible for processing the importation, storing and preparing for the distribution of the books to a score of university libraries in China.

Institutions of higher learning in China always rely heavily on Western publications for their instructional and research work. However, during a long period after 1949, for various reasons, university libraries in China acquired only a limited number of Western books. As China changed its educational system in recent decades, scores of universities have become research universities. They need a much larger collection of Western books than before. And they need to find important books which they missed since 1949.

In the meantime, in North America there are a number of professors, scholars, and specialists who are discarding their books when they retire, move, change their fields, or decease. And many university libraries get rid of their duplicates and outdated reference books every year. Some publishing houses often liquidate their inventory by cleaning out unsold books. Many of those books are useful to university libraries in China.

As a retired librarian who has visited China several times, I became aware of this situation and initiated in 2004 a project which would collect books in North America and donate the books to university libraries in China. The project immediately received enthusiastic support from a few retired scholars, and a Books-for-China Fund was established.

The Chinese Ministry of Education has approved the project and designated the Ocean University of China at Qingdao as the receiving station of our books. The project sends books to Qingdao by container. Donors of books do not have to provide the project with a booklist. And the project can send a donor’s books to any university specified by the donor, such as his alma mater or a university in his native town.

Sam Chen, who owns the EPEH Company, has provided the project with free storage. Donors may send their books there or deliver the books there during its office hours -- Monday to Friday, 9-5. The address of the storage is “Books-for-China project, c/o EP Enterprises Holding, Inc., 1300 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11237.

In order to facilitate the collection of books from donors on the West Coast, the project has placed a storage container in the parking lot of the Chinese newspaper, the World Journal, at 231 Adrian Drive, Millbrae, CA, 94030. Ms. Shirley Chen, Manager of the Public Affairs & Administration Department of the World Journal in San Francisco, has been kind enough to receive donors’ books on behalf of the project. Her telephone no. is 650-259-2068 and her e-mail address is Donors may contact her for delivering books to that storage container.

The project accepts books at college and above levels, regardless of their languages, subjects, or dates of publication.

A number of prominent professors and scholars have donated books to this project. They include Professor T. H. Tsien, former Director of the East Asian Collection of the University of Chicago, Professor Cho-yun Hsu of the University of Pittsburgh, Member of Academia Sinica, Professor Kuo K. Wang , chair professor at Cornell University and member of the National Academy of Engineering of the U.S., and Professor N.T, Wang of Columbia University’s School of Business, a well-known economist.

The project sent its first container of books to China in August of 2005 and the second in August of 2006. Together with the third container, it has sent a total of about 50,000 books to China. More than a score of universities in China have received the books. The Xinhua News Agency, the World Weekly, the World Journal, the China Press (Qiao Bao), Duowei News, and several other mass media have reported on this project.

As the project becomes better known in China, it has been receiving an increasing number of requests for books. Therefore, it must continue and expand its effort of collecting books. And it must raise funds to cover the costs of collecting books. But the project is a very small private organization with very limited resources. It needs the support of all people, especially librarians who are interested in helping university libraries in China. It needs to have more sources of gift books. It needs financial support. The Books-for-China Fund is a tax-exempt organization. Financial contributions to the Fund are tax-deductible. Contribution checks can be made payable to “Books-for-China Fund” and sent to “John T. Ma, 138-10 Franklyn Avenue. #3-D, Flushing, NY 11355”. For inquiries, please call 718-886-4687 or e-mail