UK Libraries Celebrates Chinese New Year

By Whitney Hale

College: Libraries

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 26, 2012) − As this year has been declared the Year of China by University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, it seems fitting that the UK Libraries publically celebrate the Chinese New Year with an exhibit of materials from its collections. An exhibition of postcards and artifacts from the country can be found on display now through the spring semester at three of UK's campus libraries, the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center, the Medical Center Library and William T. Young Library

The main attraction of UK Libraries' Chinese New Year exhibition is postcards sent back home by travelers to China from 1910 to 1980. The cards depict scenes from various areas of China (mostly Hong Kong) and represent a western view of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for those years. The postcards are part of the UK Libraries postcard collection housed in Special Collections in the M. I. King Building. Reproductions of the postcards are on display in the Little Fine Arts Library, the atrium of the William T. Young Library and at the entrance of the Medical Center Library. All 56 postcards are also included in the video display on view in the Hub, located in the basement level of the Young Library.  

Additional artifacts associated with the Chinese New Year are on display in the atrium of Young Library. Hanging above the entrance to Core 4 is a stylized replica of a traditional Chinese lantern, flanked on the left by a Chinese rope knot and on the right by national flags representing the world’s Chinese populations. To the far left of these artifacts is a banner titled "Celestial Horses," a work presented by the artist, General Yeh Tsui Pai, to the university in commemoration of UK’s 100th anniversary. A display of facsimiles of four postcards and a paper cut calendar complete the exhibit in the Young Library atrium. 

The Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) is based on the Chinese calendar, a complex combination of solar and lunar calendars. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which begins on Jan. 23. The Dragon is the fifth sign of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac. In ancient China, the Dragon represented earthly power and glory. Today, it is an auspicious symbol signifying success and happiness. China's 15-day celebration ends with the Lantern Festival. 

As with any project of this scope, it took a number of people to put together the UK Libraries exhibition. The postcards and banner were identified by Gordon Hogg, library director for Special Collections. The original banner was produced on a piece of silk but after years of storage it was too fragile to hang. Because of their physical limitations, the  postcards and the banner were forwarded to Crystal Heis, image management specialist in UK Libraries’ Digital Library Services to create and enhance the digital images of the materials. The banner image was in turn reproduced on cloth and the postcard images were printed out on an office color copier and mounted.  

The digital postcard collection video display was created by Abby Taylor an Experience Based Career Education (EBCE) Program intern enrolled at Tates Creek High School.  Abby also designed and created posters for the exhibit, as well as an informational program about Chinese New Year which is running on the video windows in the Hub along with the postcard exhibit. 

Jen Bartlett, head of Reference Services, mounted the display in the Hub. The exhibit in the Young atrium would not be compete without the loan of the lantern and knot by Huajing Maske, director of the Confucius Institute, and the Facilities Group in UK Libraries who worked out how to hang the display in the five story atrium. 

If you can’t come by to view UK Libraries' Chinese New Year exhibit in person, check out its virtual exhibit online at       

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or 

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