The University of Chicago Library
South Asia | About the Southern Asia Collection
About the Southern Asia Collection
The University of Chicago Library has held a substantial collection of South Asia materials since the earliest years of the University. The Berlin Collection purchased in 1892 included a significant body of philological works in the classical languages of South Asia, most notably Sanskrit and Pali. In addition to philology, the early South Asia collection was also strong in missiological and comparative religions materials, reflecting early Divinity School interests in the region.

In the 1950s, there was a marked expansion in the range of the Library's South Asia holdings. There were two catalysts for this expansion: first, it was at this time that the Library of Congress established its South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program. From this time the Library has systematically acquired a large proportion of new titles published in South Asia in English and in the modern regional languages with the aid of the Library of Congress offices in the subcontinent. The Library's collection of South Asia materials published from about 1960 therefore is noteworthy.

Second, the growth of the discipline of Area Studies in academia brought new support for Library acquisitions in South Asia. It was possible for the Library to make many antiquarian and other retrospective purchases to supplement its holdings of historical materials. The growing excellence of the South Asia collection made the Library a magnet for important South Asia gift collections from this time. Invaluable additions to the collection have been made in the form of gifts.

Collection Policy
It is the aim of the Library to provide comprehensive collections in South Asia materials in all areas of the Humanities and Social Sciences. This broad-based subject emphasis reflects the strengths of the academic program in South Asia at the University, which has historically been strong in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Anthropology, History, and within the Divinity School. The Collection serves the research needs of University of Chicago faculty and students. Beyond this, it also serves a wider research community in the U.S. and abroad.

The area of geographical emphasis is the South Asian region (including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the Maldives); collection in this area is comprehensive. The Library collects materials in all languages of the Indian Subcontinent, including dialects of the major literary languages, Tribal languages, and English. The collection also includes books about South Asia written in the European languages. In addition, the Library also collects new publications on the subject of Southeast Asia - particularly Southeast Asian Buddhist traditions - supplementing these with special purchases to serve the research needs of University faculty and students working in these areas.

The Library collaborates in South Asia acquisitions with the Center for Research Libraries, which maintains comprehensive holdings of South Asia newspapers and journals acquired by the Library of Congress. This collaboration enables the Library to focus on developing an expansive collection of monographic material.

Types of materials collected include pamphlet literature and ephemera, such as sectarian religious literature; popular erotic literature; literature on the cinema; cookbooks; maps; and radical political literature. The Library also collects materials in a wide range of physical formats, including microform, audio and video on disc and cassette; and electronic journals and databases.

The Library actively acquires the full chronological range of materials for the study of South Asia. A systematic effort is made to fill gaps in the collection through retrospective purchases, particularly in South Asian languages regularly taught in the University. The Library also pursues the acquisition of rare and antiquarian books, with the aid for example of the Library Society.

Areas of Distinction
South Asia Collection holdings are particularly rich in the following areas of inquiry: Anthropology, History, Indology and Indological Studies, Indo-Persian Literature, and Religious Studies. Noteworthy gifts from distinguished scholars in these fields have considerably enriched sustained acquisition efforts -- among them Susan S. Wadley, William H. and Charlotte Viall Wiser, J. A. B. van Buitenen, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, McKim Marriott, Kenneth W. Jones, Edward C. Dimock, Jr., Bernard S. Cohn, and Kali Charan Bahl.

Related Collections at the University of Chicago
In the Library, the South Asia Collection is supplemented by holdings in the Map Collection and in the Special Collections Research Center. Special Collections holds the papers of many prominent scholars of South Asia, including A.K. Ramanujan, Milton Singer, and Gitel Steed, and the collection continues to grow.

At the University of Chicago, the South Asia Outreach office maintains a video library as part of its collection of educational resources for teachers in the Chicago area. The South Asia Language Resource Center also maintains a library of audio and other pedagogical material for the teaching and learning of the languages of South Asia.

Projects & Cooperative Initiatives
The South Asia Department of the Library is involved in multiple cooperative projects designed to preserve, to catalog, and to make available important resources for the study of South Asia.

The Library is partner to two digital initiatives that aim to bring key resources to a global audience. The Digital South Asia Library is a collaborative project involving major Universities and research Libraries in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South Asia as well as national and international organizations and granting agencies. DSAL makes digital materials for reference and research on South Asia - including reference resources, images, statistics, and selected journals and books - available to the public. A second initiative is the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia, a partnership of the South Asia Language and Area Center at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the Triangle South Asia Consortium in North Carolina. The aim of this project is to create and disseminate electronic dictionaries for many of the languages of South Asia, including the twenty-six modern literary languages.

The Library is also a participant in several cooperative initiatives to catalog, preserve on microfilm, and make widely available a number of major collections of materials for the study of South Asia. Some of these are collections located on the Subcontinent. These include the Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) dedicated to the Roja Muthiah's private library of Tamil materials, and the Urdu Research Centre (URC) for the preservation of the Urdu library of Mr. Abdus Samad Khan. Other projects are dedicated to consolidating and preserving the major works listed in the The National Bibliography of Indian Literature (MIPP, the Microfilming of Indian Publications Project); collections of Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit books in series (the Indological Series Project); and nineteenth-century publications in South Asian languages from the former India Office Library (SAMP, the South Asia Microfilm Project). Microfilms are made available to participating institutions via the Center for Research Libraries.

The Library is also engaged in the preparation of a South Asia Union Catalogue. The South Asia Union Catalogue gathers together existing bibliographic records with new cataloging produced through the above-listed projects in an open-access on-line catalog. There are two aims for the Catalogue. The first is that it should become a comprehensive historical bibliography of books and periodicals published in South Asia from 1556 through the present. The second is that it should become a union catalogue in which libraries throughout the world owning copies of those imprints will register their holdings.