South Pacific


1. History and Overview of the Collection

A distinct South Pacific collection fund was originally intended to support students enrolled in a Pacific Basin Studies Program at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute from 1982 until at least 2005. This fund was later amalgamated with the Southeast Asia fund. In 2014, a separate South Pacific fund was subdivided from Southeast Asia to more closely track expenditures related to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific islands--more broadly, the Oceania region. Currently, acquisitions under the South Pacific fund focus especially on anthropology, ethnography, and indigenous issue topics, such as human rights. Other materials about Australia and New Zealand are acquired on major historical and political developments, and by and about important literary figures, but minor works should have some engagement with indigenous or island groups. Major literary works are also acquired.

2. Academic Departments and Programs Supported

a. Undergraduate

South Pacific acquisitions supplement materials for college courses mostly in anthropology, history, political science, and human rights.

b. Graduate and Professional Schools

There is no graduate program narrowly focused on the South Pacific region. Core acquisitions related to graduate anthropology, history, international affairs, literature, and political science are collected, as well as selective art books. South Pacific acquisitions are also appropriate for research and course assignments in the School of International and Public Affairs.

c. Institutes, Interdisciplinary Programs, etc.

There is no Columbia institute specific to the South Pacific region. South Pacific acquisitions at Columbia are targeted to supplement the Southeast Asia 2CUL collaboration with Cornell University Library, since materials on Oceania are not comprehensively collected by Cornell librarians.

d. Course Reserves

Selection for course reserves is up to individual faculty members. The Librarian will do whatever is possible to secure specific materials absent from the collection.

3. Selection Guidelines

a. Print

Most South Pacific acquisitions are located on site. Materials on political science and international and public affairs are located in the Lehman Social Sciences Library stacks. Literature and history are located in the Butler Library stacks. Art books and art catalogs are located in the Avery Library stacks; archeological works are in Avery Library’s off-site storage.

b. Digital Collections

There are no major digital collections specific to the South Pacific, but several digital collections—such as Ethnographic Video Online—include substantial South Pacific components.

c. Media

Several digital collections, such as World History in Video and Ethnographic Video Online, include films set in and about Oceania and the Pacific Island region.

d. Languages Collected

Most materials collected are in English. Some items include local languages, such as Hawaiian dialects.

e. Chronological Focus

There is no chronological limit on collecting in this area; it ranges from prehistory to the contemporary period.

f. Geographical Focus

The geographical focus is on Oceania, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand. Included in this region are such islands as Fiji, Hawaii, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Polynesia, the Solomon Islands, Suva, Samoa, and Vanuatu.

g. Imprint Dates Collected

The main focus of collecting is current and recent (+/- three years) imprints. When antiquarian acquisitions are offered via gift or purchase, no specific chronological ranges are established in advance: rare or unique materials from any period may be considered.

4. Distinctive and Special Collections

The Missionary Research Library Archive (Series 11) at the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary includes a small Australia & Oceania series component.

5. Collection Strategies

a. Consortia and Collaborative Collecting with Other Institutions

At present, Columbia is not participating in collaborative collecting for South Pacific acquisitions.

b. Location Decisions and Selection for ReCAP

Duplication of titles is limited to works identified by faculty as being central to a specific course. In these cases, no more than a few copies are obtained, one of which should be placed by the faculty member on reserve. Deduplication only takes place when a title has been identified for relocation to ReCAP and a copy already exists on shelf at that facility. Even in this instance, the Librarian will inspect the copy that could potentially be withdrawn for any unique features or unusual provenance before assenting to deduplication.

c. Deaccessioning

Titles are deaccessioned only in cases where the physical copy is disintegrating and no longer serviceable in print format. In these instances, either a preservation photocopy is made, or a digital surrogate created or obtained. Books located in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library are not deaccessioned.

d. Digitization and Preservation

The South Pacific collection is relatively small and issues of digital preservation have not been an issue.

contact information


GARY HAUSMAN

South Asian Studies Librarian
  • Global Studies
(212) 854-8401
Global Studies - 309 International Affairs

Related subject policies and references:

Gifts-In-Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries Preservation Policy

Last updated: April 5, 2019