East-West Center Oral History Project: Lynette Wageman

Lynette Wageman

Lynette Wageman is ethnically Indian and was born in Trinidad, West Indies.  She went to college in Missouri where she worked as a student assistant in the library. Later, she and her husband lived in Germany during the raising of the Berlin Wall.  Moving to Hawaii, Lynette got a job in East-West Center's infant library in 1962 under its first library director, Dr. G. Raymond Nunn.  The library grew rapidly as an avalanche of materials arrived from Asia.  Lynette’s interview describes the East-West Center library’s beginnings, its role in UH-EWC politics, its early leaders and staff such as library directors Robert Stevens and Joyce Wright,  and its many adventures.  In 1970 when the library collection and management was divided between UH and EWC, Lynette moved to Hamilton Library on the Manoa campus where she eventually became Head of the Asia Collection before retiring in 2001.


Read Wageman's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC - Arrival in Hawai‘i
  • Life at EWC - Joining EWC Library Staff, 1962 - EWC Library/Structure - Public Law 480 Program (PL480) - Building EWC Library - Library Staff, Early 1960s - UH/EWC Library Relations - Attending UH Library School - Joyce Wright as EWC Library Director
  • Intellectual Innovations - Cataloging/Classification of Asian Material/Collaboration with Library of Congress
  • Institutional Transitions - Splitting up the EWC Library and Staff - Creation of UH Asia Collection
  • Life After EWC - UH Hamilton Library -  Asia Collection/EWC Support - Professional Activities - Retirement
  • EWC’s Impact - On Career - Perspectives   


Interview Quotes
"I have never seen a bunch of harder-working people, dedicated workers, as the staff that was there working with the East-West Center Library.  First of all, we had lots of work to do and the world was against us.  We were charting new ground with a library where materials were very difficult to acquire and to catalog.  We had to be very flexible because there were not always cataloging rules to follow.  We were dealing with the umpteen languages of Asia.  We were young and inspired by all of this."

"We were not microfilming at the library, but Dr. Nunn [Library Director] would send people out to the field with camera and film to microfilm important documents and newspapers, like for Okinawa.  And for various places in Asia and Europe, he would send people out there to buy all the microfilmed materials available.  He was just an acquisitions person.  I mean, he didn't pay that much attention to the cataloguing part.  He said, "You can always catalog it later."  He would borrow unique materials from other libraries and with their permission, have them filmed on campus. And he was building up a really fantastic collection.  And I read his interview, and it’s true that at one time, we had one of the best collections of microfilm on Asia in the whole world. We had things that nobody else had."


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.