The University of Chicago Library
South Asia | Overview

About the Southern Asia Collection

Search Resources Available in Chicago

Search Resources Available Abroad

WorldWide Resources

South Asia Exhibitions at the Library

About the Southern Asia Collection

The Southern Asia Department is primarily devoted to materials on South Asia in the Library.

Our department concentrates on maintaining an outstanding collection for the study of South Asia that includes digital materials.

We also maintain the Southeast Asia collection for the Library, giving priority to materials for the study of Buddhism. One highlight is our collection of Tibetan Buddhist pothis.

South Asia Materials in the Library

There are over 552,000 volumes related to South Asia in the Library. They include all the languages and dialects of the subcontinent.

  • Reference Collection
The Southern Asia Reference Collection is located in the northeast corner of the fifth floor. Examples of what you will find here: dictionaries for South Asian languages, atlases, print catalogs of collections of South Asian manuscripts and other materials; nearly complete sets of South Asian censuses and gazetteers; current issues of journals and newspapers related to South Asia. These materials do not circulate except by special permission of the Bibliographer.
  • Pamphlet Collection

Most pamphlets and ephemera have now been integrated into the Library Catalog. Many that have not are housed in cabinets in the Southern Asia Reference Collection. To view these, come see us in Room 560.

  • Map Collection

Located in Room 370 of Regenstein Library, the Map Collection holds hundreds of maps on all parts of South Asia. Many of these are filed by area, and not cataloged.

  • Special Collections

Many old and rare books related to South Asia, such as traveler's accounts, are found in the Special Collections Department. Here, too, are collections of papers of scholars of South Asia.

  • Audio-Visual Materials

These include 16-mm films, videos, audio cassettes, and sound discs. Most of these have now been integrated into the Library collection and can be found using the online catalog. Additional materials are available from the South Asia Outreach Office.

  • Microfilm Projects

More than 9,000 titles have recently been added to the collection as microfilms. Most titles are related to the classical languages and literatures of South Asia (Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Pali) and 19th Century and early 20th Century titles in Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali.

Burmese palm-leaf manuscripts

*See Search Resources Available in Chicago for how to find specific materials.*

*For more information on materials being added to the Southern Asia Collection, see Projects.*

There are over 552,000 volumes related to South Asia in the University of Chicago Libraries, in all languages of the Subcontinent: Arabic, Assamese, Balochi, Bengali, Brahui, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Newari, Oriya, Pali, Panjabi, Persian, Prakrit, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, as well as Tribal languages and dialects of the major literary languages. Our collection also includes many books about South Asia written in European languages.

The greater number of our books are supplied through Library of Congress field offices in India and Pakistan, operating under the South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program. The Library of Congress Program has been acquiring new volumes published in South Asia since 1962.

The Library has been collecting books in Sanskrit and Indology since the University was founded in 1892. The Library also holds many older titles in the regional languages and in English, many acquired as retrospective purchases.

Invaluable additions have also been made to our collection in the form of gifts.