In September 1988, following the British Library's ambitious third Oriental Studies colloquium on sources for Japanese studies, European librarians, curators and scholars sought to create an organisation to embrace all who are professionally interested in the provision of resources for the study of Japan. These discussions culminated in 1989 with the establishment of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists at a Workshop held in the Staatsbibliothek in West Berlin. These developments reflected major academic and technical changes which were already stimulating Pan-European and Euro-Japanese cooperation.
In Britain scholars in Cambridge had begun the preparation of a Catalogue of Edo-Period books in European collections. Furthermore, worldwide advances in computer technology suggested the possibility of international cooperation in cataloguing modern Japanese materials. In Japan the development of databases at the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken, Kyoto) also provided examples of the use of computers to assist research and cooperation in Japanese cultural studies. Of possibly even greater interest to librarians was the National Centre for Scientific Information Systems' (NACSIS) active interest in international cooperation which now already led to the creation of a link between the computerised NACSIS catalogue (NACSIS-CAT) and the British Library, London and the Staatsbibliothek at Munich. This welcome initiative made the location of materials in Japan and the cataloguing of Japanese publications somewhat easier than in the past.
Within weeks of the creation of the EAJRS the Berlin Wall was opened and closer cooperation with fellow Japanologists in Eastern and Central Europe became possible. At the Association's first full conference in Budapest in 1990 these earlier tendencies were confirmed and reinforced. Soviet and Czech scholars indicated the broad scope of little-known East European collections; Dr. Kornicki reported on the progress of the Edo books project and colleagues from Nichibunken and NACSIS described recent developments in the creation of databases and computerised cataloguing. A further important contribution to the conference was a paper presented by three senior librarians from the United States who wished to develop stronger links with Japanese information specialists in Europe.
When the second EAJRS conference was held in 1991, in a united Berlin - and, as has been the intention from the establishment of the Association to coincide with the EAJS conferences - the Soviet Union was on the point ofdisintegration and political obstacles to cooperation with colleagues in Eastern Europe had virtually disappeared. On this occasion Polish and Russian scholars described the excellent Japanese art collection in Cracow and documentary collections in St. Petersburg. The broadening scope of the Nichibunken's research activity was also evident in Professor Betchaku's outline of her Nichibunken-sponsored survey of Japanese works of art in European museums, libraries and galleries.
A further theme in EAJRS conferences has been the circulation of information on major collections and research centres in Japan. At Budapest Mr. Kamiyama described the holdings of the Japanese Foreign Ministry archives and Professor Sato analysed the scope of libraries and collections in the former Soviet Union and East European states remains little-known and there exists a pressing need for the compilation of guides, catalogues and databases to spread knowledge of these important resources. Major collections in Spain, Portugal and Italy also remain relatively little-known and little progress has been made in Europe-wide cooperation in cataloguing Japanese materials and monitoring European research and publications. Of equal importance is the need to monitor rapid developments in the use of computers for Japanese studies in Japanese institutions. It is essential that Europeans keep abreast of these advances if they are to benefit from them. Finally both the importance of existing and often hardly inventorized resource material in long-established museums and institutions and the enormous continuing growth of information sources on Japan, indicate that the EAJRS might usefully cooperate in world-wide meetings to discuss the most effective means of maximising cooperation in this important field.