March 17, 2018

Jim Cheng | Movers & Shakers 2008

Films ‘R’ Us

Realizing that East Asian studies professors at University of California–San Diego (UCSD) were increasingly using popular media for research and teaching, librarian Jim Cheng built an unparalleled collection of East Asian films for them. This now-renowned collection (including posters, too) has enabled faculty and student research on a wide variety of topics.

Cheng publicized the collection through a series of film festivals featuring directors and scholars from UCSD and around the globe. The 2003 symposium capitalized on Cheng’s underground Chinese film collection, which one UCSD professor considers the best in the world. His 2007 symposium on the Chinese Cultural Revolution featured films and personal recollections of people who lived through it—including Cheng himself, who was sent with his parents (both science professors) to the countryside.

UCSD librarian Catherine Friedman credits Cheng’s creation of this unique resource with building university support and an international reputation for UCSD Libraries, as well as a better understanding of a region that “will have significant impact on the future of the United States.”


CURRENT POSITION Head, International Relations and Pacific Studies Library/East Asian Collection, University of California–San Diego Libraries

DEGREE MLS, University of Washington, 1996

MEDIA EVENT Remembering the Chinese Cultural Revolution,

CASHING IN Arrived in America as a graduate student with just $60