In 1995, Professor Sucheng Chan founded the Asian American Studies Department at UCSB. It was one of the first autonomous academic departments for Asian American Studies in the country. The library responded to the needs of this new department by adding an Asian American Studies Collection to the Ethnic and Gender Studies Library.
The collection houses materials related to a variety of topics related to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders including anthropology, biography, history, literature and sociology. There are also materials on specific ethnic groups, immigration and assimilation, cultural identity, and other similar subjects. Because of the broad nature of Asian American studies there are also materials relevant to research in this area in other locations throughout the library. Materials in Asian languages are located in other locations as well.