On July 7 four librarians from Myanmar, along with two Northern Illinois University (NIU) professors, visited the Newberry. NIU, which has a strong Southeast Asia studies program and the only Center for Burma Studies in the United States, has been active in forging partnerships with academic and cultural institutions in Myanmar as the country emerges from decades of military rule. One part of its intellectual infrastructure that Myanmar intends to buttress is library administration and the preservation of library materials.
While at the Newberry, the group of Burmese librarians took a tour of the library, oversaw conservation techniques in our Conservation Lab, and learned how researchers in our reading rooms find and request collection items. Some of these items were highlighted by Newberry staff. Curator of Maps Jim Akerman illustrated the Newberry’s strength in cartographic materials, conducting a show-and-tell featuring a series of maps that provided an overview of the history of cartography and also revealed the ways in which the West has understood (and misunderstood) Burma and Southeast Asia.