A Digital Southeast Asia Library

The US Department of Education's Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program recently awarded a four-year, $780,000 grant to a consortium of institutions from around the world to create a wonderful new online resource in Southeast Asian Studies called the Southeast Asia Digital Library. The grant will be administered by Northern Illinois University (NIU) Libraries, which also will house and maintain the digital library. A consortium of institutions represented by librarians from the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA) and faculty from participating institutions will act as an advisory committee to guide the digital library from its inception. Work on the library will commence at NIU Libraries and around the world in October 2005 to provide free access to archives of textual, still image, sound, and video resources, covering both historical and current information from the region.

Over the four years of the grant, the Southeast Asia Digital Library will fund eight constituent content projects at partner institutions in the US and Southeast Asia. The projects include:

  • Supporting upgrades to an online bibliographic index at Thammasat University in Thailand, while creating an interface to access the index and providing a full-text article delivery service;
  • Supporting a project at Khon Kaen University to preserve and digitize fragile palm leaf manuscripts from northeastern Thailand;
  • Creating an archive of historical photographs covering a century of life in Cambodia;
  • Training seminars for librarians in the Philippines at the University of San Carlos, Cebuano Studies Center, covering the latest techniques in preservation, conservation, and digitization that will result in the creation of an online archive of unique images and textual materials;
  • Creating a video archive of a currently influential television program from Indonesia;
  • Digitizing rare early printed works in the vernacular languages of the region;
  • Supporting the Living Memory Project to create a video archive of interviews of former political prisoners in East Timor; and
  • Funding a project at Ohio University to create a free, online access interface for the Berita Database of journal articles and other resources from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

In addition, the Southeast Asia Digital Library will work with many US institutions and international partners to link with already completed digital projects in Southeast Asian Studies to create a network of resources available to students, teachers, scholars, government officials, and many others with interest in the region. Collaboration on future projects will also enable these institutions to use available resources more efficiently by continuing to build the cooperative digital library.

In order to maintain consistency across regional digital libraries, the Southeast Asia Digital Library will use the standards, including compatible software and hardware systems, established by the Digital South Asia Library (DSAL), another TICFIA funded regional digital library, thus building on the foundation created by earlier projects. At the same time, the Southeast Asia Digital Library will expand and enhance the functionality of the DSAL model by digitizing and providing access to materials in formats not previously used in Digital South Asia Library.