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Collection Overview

Collection Description

The South Asian language holdings comprise approximately half of the Asian language collection at the University of Wisconsin. Among the top Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) schools in 2005, Madison has one of the largest South Asian collections, second only to the University of Chicago.south asian count comparison chart 1

As of 2006, OCLC statistics indicate that UW’s Library has over 140,000 cataloged titles in South Asian languages in its collection.south asian holdings chartCurrent collecting is in the following languages: Hindi, Pali, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tibetan and Urdu. On average, we add approximately 3,500 titles annually in these languages. We also currently subscribe to over 900 periodicals from South Asia, covering a wide range of subjects from current events and governmental information to research reports and association proceedings to scholarly journals. The Library continues to maintain and develop a nationally recognized collection of visual materials related to South Asia.

The UW South Asia collection has historically been strong in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, focusing on topics such as: religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam), languages (Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Himalayan, and Dravidian), economy, history, social work and labor, anthropology, and the history of education. Approximately three quarters of our collection comes from India, while the other quarter is from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Read more about our collection in the 2006 Annual Report.

In addition, we actively participate in strategic cooperative collection development programs, such as the South Asia Microform Project (SAMP) and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).

Collection History

south asian books 2While the Library began collecting South Asian material in the early twentieth century, the collection was not developed in earnest until the early to mid-1960s, thanks in large part to the Public Law 480 (PL-480) buying program. This national program provided participating libraries in the United States with materials from all around the world, including South Asia, at a very nominal cost. While the funding for this program ended in the 1990s, the idea behind it helped to bring about the Library of Congress Collective Acquisitions Program (LCCAP).

We still currently get many of our books through collective purchasing programs, like the LCCAP for South Asia, called the South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program (SACAP) with offices in Delhi and Islamabad. These programs purchase titles in bulk, and then distribute them to many libraries, such as Madison. Although books comprise the bulk of the collection, we actively add to our growing electronic collection through electronic journals, online reference tools, full-text databases, and increasingly e-books.

HathiTrustWhile cooperative acquisition programs like these have been a large boon to the growth of our collection, they had the added side-effect of standardizing South Asian collections across the country. It is now the intention of the South Asian Bibliographer to help develop a more diverse national South Asia collection, by supplementing material purchased through cooperative agreements with more hand-selected titles that will be unique to the UW-Madison South Asia collection.

Memorial Library also participates Hathi Trust mass digitization project. As part of this, we continue to submit large parts to Google Books for digitization, and then subsequently archive these titles in Hathi Trust.

Collection Highlights

AmarChitraKathaOur collection incorporates a wide range of rare and unusual items from throughout the library. Special Collections houses pre-20th century South Asian manuscripts, both originals and copies. Classical and contemporary literature from India is an area of particular strength, and we continue to develop and nurture that collection in new ways (such as our growing collection of graphic novels from Amar Chitra Katha).

Our Tibetan language collection is particularly strong. Some are housed by Special Collections, in their Tibetan and Mongolian blockprints collection. Less fragile items reside in the fourth floor Tibetan Collection Room. These contain many reproductions of Tibetan manuscripts.

Donations are always welcome. Recent significant donations include legal and historical materials from Prof. Marc Galanter; colonial and other primary source material from Prof. Robert Frykenburg; and Manavadharmasastra manuscripts from Prof. Patrick Olivelle.