In recent years, teachers of introductory courses in Asian American studies have been facing a dilemma nonexistent a few decades ago, when hardly any texts in that field were available. Today, excellent anthologies and other introductory texts exist, and books on individual Asian American nationality groups and on general issues important for Asian Americans are published almost weekly. Even professors who are experts in the field find it difficult to decide which of these to assign to students; non-experts who teach in related areas and are looking for writings for and by Asian Americans to include in survey courses are in an even worse position.
A complicating factor has been the continuing lack of specialized one-volume reference works on Asian Americans, such as biographical dictionaries or desktop encyclopedias. Such works would enable students taking Asian American studies courses (and professors in related fields) to look up basic information on Asian American individuals, institutions, history, and culture without having to wade through mountains of primary source material. In addition, given such works, Asian American studies professors might feel more free to include more challenging Asian American material in their introductory reading lists, since good reference works allow students to acquire on their own the background information necessary to interpret difficult or unfamiliar material.