U.S. Department of Education Grants $530K to Phase Two of the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia Library Project (DDSA)


NEW YORK, August 27, 2003 Columbia University Libraries, the University of Chicago Library, and North Carolina State University have recently received $530K in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, with the University of Chicago as the leader.

The new three-year grant will be used for the second phase of the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia (DDSA) project. The project will add at least ten monolingual dictionaries for modern literary languages of South Asia to its web site at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/. These additions will complement the thirty-four bilingual dictionaries already being made available under the project's first phase.

The DDSA was initiated by Columbia's South Asia Librarian and Director of Area Studies Dr. David Magier, in collaboration with the University of Chicago. It was developed under major Department of Education funding, as part of the Digital South Asia Library (DSAL) project - a successful ten year Columbia/Chicago effort to secure funding for free online access to full-text documents, image and photo archives, journals indexes, statistics, maps, and other vital resources for the study of South Asia. The DSAL is online at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/. Through DSAL, students, scholars, teachers, business leaders, public officials and citizens have been able to locate and utilize via the internet materials concerning South Asia that are not otherwise accessible in the U.S.

In 2002, Magier and colleagues created the Center for South Asia Libraries, an independent international non-profit corporation with offices in Chicago, India and Nepal to centralize support for these projects. Magier works with the offices and partners of CSAL in India to carry out the extensive data entry for the dictionaries project, which has received publicity in the Indian subcontinent because of the way it highlights many of the languages of the region and makes their dictionaries more accessible. "The Digital Dictionaries project has caught a lot of attention, because of the balance it strikes between the interests of dictionary publishers, copyright holders, and the public - in the West and in South Asia," says Magier. "By carrying out this work through CSAL, and providing support for sister institutions in the Indian Subcontinent, we demonstrate the value of international collaboration in tackling preservation and access challenges that could not be addressed otherwise." The grant from the Department of Education also enhances the likelihood that partner libraries in the countries of South Asia will also attract support from governments and foundations in the region.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 7.5 million volumes, over 50,000 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms and other non-print formats. The collections and services are organized into 22 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines.  The Library's web site at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to the print and electronic collections and to services.

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