About


South Asian Studies Collection

The South Asian Studies collection contains over 500,000 volumes and 1,295 current serial titles, along with audio-visual materials, manuscripts, maps, microform materials, pamphlets, posters and a variety of electronic resources. The Library collects materials published in or about South Asia across many disciplines supporting the interdisciplinary research and curricular needs of faculty and students interested in this part of the world.  Subject strengths include anthropology, economic development, history, literature, religion, and political science. Textbooks and juvenile literature is not acquired unless requested by faculty for teaching purposes. Over the years we have added invaluable material to our collection in the form of gifts.

Languages covered & geographic scope

Currently materials are acquired from South Asia in Arabic, Balochi, Bengali, Brahui, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Nepali, Newari, Pali, Panjabi, Persian, Prakrit, Pushto, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, and Urdu as well as some of the tribal languages and dialects. There are older materials in Assamese, Oriya, Marathi, and Sinhala languages also in the collection.

Geographic scope includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as Tibetan language material published in South Asia.

Sources of acquisition

The majority of our material is supplied through Library of Congress field offices in New Delhi, India and Islamabad, Pakistan, operating under the South Asian Cooperative Acquisitions Program (SACAP). We also acquire material from SACAP for the Law Library. Most of the University Press and scholarly trade publications about South Asia in English and other European languages are acquired for the collection from our approval plan vendor YBP and individual orders. Retrospective purchases are made upon request by faculty and sometimes to fill major gaps in the collection.

Physical location of the collection

The collection is distributed throughout the many Libraries at Columbia University. Most materials can be found in the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Butler Library, the Lehman Social Sciences Library, and the Business & Economics Library. The Law Library, the Burke Library, and the Health Sciences Library also have significant material on South Asia.

South Asian Studies Reading Room

This special non-circulating collection on South Asian history and humanities is located on the 6th floor of Butler Library.

Related resources

  • SARAI: South Asia Resource Access on the Internet
    SARAI
    is a comprehensive list of links to resources about South Asia, including bibliographical resources, directories of scholars and organizations, etc.
  • Digital South Asia Library (DSAL)
    The Digital South Asia Library, containing digitized texts, images, reference sources, maps and union lists, is a cooperative project that relies on expertise from many US libraries as well as libraries in South Asia and Europe.
  • SAMP & CRL services
    Columbia's membership in the South Asia Microform Project (SAMP) and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) allows patrons access to microforms of retrospective and hard-to-obtain journals, newspapers, and other research materials, which may be borrowed for use at Columbia through Interlibrary Loan.

Southeast Asian Studies Collection

The library collects material published in or about the Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, primarily written in the English language, with some material in Bahasa Indonesia and Malay.  The collection focuses on the subject areas of anthropology, economic development, history, religion, and political science, in support of the interdisciplinary research and curricular needs of faculty and students interested in the region. The majority of the material is acquired through the Library of Congress field office in Jakarta, operating under the Southeast Asian Cooperative Acquisitions Program (SEACAP).

The collection is distributed throughout the many libraries at Columbia University. Most materials can be found in Butler Library, the Lehman Social Sciences Library, and the Business & Economics Library.

Related resources

  • Southeast Asia Digital Library (SEADL)
    The Southeast Asia Digital Library, containing digitized texts, images, reference sources, and indexes, is a project that relies on expertise from a consortium of U.S. institutions represented by CORMOSEA and several international partners.
  • East & Southeast Asia: an Annotated Directory of Internet Resources
    This annotated directory serves as a window onto the rich Internet resources for the political units of East Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • SEAM & CRL services
    Columbia's membership in the Southeast Asia Microform Project and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) allows patrons access to microforms of retrospective and hard-to-obtain journals, newspapers, and other research materials, which may be borrowed for use at Columbia through Interlibrary Loan.

Organization of materials

  • Newspapers
    Currently received South & Southeast Asian newspapers are held in the Lehman Social Sciences Library on the 2nd floor. CLIO does not list holdings information for currently received newspapers. The Libraries also have microfilm of older issues of some currently received newspapers held in ReCAP. Please, check CLIO for detailed holdings information for newspapers on microfilm. Also consult the serials card catalogs in Butler Reference for pre 1981 microfilm holdings of newspapers. News and current events databases like Factiva, ISI Emerging Markets, LexisNexis Academic, and World news connection, give access to many newspapers from the region.
  • Government documents
    South & Southeast Asian government documents are held throughout the departmental libraries depending on the subject. General censuses are held at Butler. Use CLIO to locate these items. Many government publications are available on the Web.
  • Maps
    The Lehman Social Sciences Library has a Map room on the second floor. Consult the Map Collection Guide, and/or Reference staff for assistance with locating maps. The Libraries also hold many atlases and reference works containing maps. Search CLIO and/or the card catalogs to locate these items.
  • Data
    GIS and Spatial Data Resources, which cover international subjects, are supported by the Digital Social Science Center located in Lehman Library. Visit their web pages for detailed information on the holdings and services available.
  • Rare Books, Archival Materials, Manuscripts, Special Collections
    Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located on the sixth floor of Butler, houses collections of original papers, oral histories, manuscripts, letters, documents, archival materials and other rare materials. The Archival Collections Portal provides access to descriptions of all cataloged archival collections in CLIO. The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research is the designated repository for the archives of major Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch.

Related library services

  • Butler Media Center
    The Butler Media Center supports the playback of multiple visual and audio formats and its purpose is to support research and curricular needs of faculty and students. Currently enrolled Columbia University and affiliated institutions students, faculty and staff are permitted to use the center. Requests for class screenings should be forwarded to Butler Reserves. Barnard Media Services also has a large audiovisual collection.
  • Offsite Library Shelving Facility (ReCAP)
    All patrons with a valid UNI and password may place requests using CLIO to request items from ReCAP, Columbia University Libraries' offsite library shelving facility. Most deliveries can be made to all campus libraries within two business days. Electronic Document Delivery (EDD) is provided for journal articles and single chapters of books.
  • Borrow Direct
    Borrow Direct enables Columbia University students, faculty, and staff with library borrowing privileges and active e-mail accounts to borrow books directly from the libraries of Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. 
  • Reference Assistance
    The South & Southeast Asian Studies Librarian is available for individual consultations and specialized reference. Services include assistance with searching major print and electronic resources for information on South & Southeast Asian research topics. Suggestions for purchases and other feedback about the collection are welcome.  Please contact the librarian directly or via Recommend Titles for Purchase and Make Suggestions. Orientation sessions, tours, and class visits to provide assistance with research on particular topics may also be arranged.