President's Message: South Asia Studies

For millennia the South Asian subcontinent has been the source of a boundless wealth of culture, knowledge, and information. Today, the nations of South Asia—India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Tibet, and Maldives—and their peoples are the subjects of scholarly research at universities and research libraries throughout the world. This issue of Focus details the many ways in which projects and programs based at the Center for Research Libraries support such research by preserving cultural and historical evidence from the subcontinent.

The Digital South Asia Library project, the online Digital Dictionaries of South Asia, and the South Asia Microform Project gather and provide access to thousands of books, newspapers, reports, pamphlets, photographs, maps and other documents from or about the subcontinent. The Center for South Asia Libraries and the South Asia Union Catalogue, programs supported by the Center, are mapping the terrain for future access to collections of important materials that reside in South Asian libraries and research centers from or about the subcontinent. This effort has been given new impetus by a grant of $798,131 recently awarded to the Center by the U.S. Department of Education, under its Technological Information and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA). The four-year collaborative project will improve access to vital resources on South Asia for scholars, public officials, and others, and create new digital resources to be delivered via the Web.

These resources flourish through the efforts of Center partners, in particular the South Asia Language and Area Center at the University of Chicago, and the Library of Congress field offices in the region. Through the latter, the Center has acquired hundreds of thousands of documents and publications from South Asia since the early 1950s. Through another partner, the Center for South Asia Libraries, numerous libraries and research centers on the subcontinent are now engaged in an international effort to make the intellectual and cultural products of the region better known and more discoverable throughout the world.