SAOA Surpasses 1 Million Pages of Open Access Content

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Elizabeth Lhost -

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) achieved a major milestone last month, surpassing one million pages in its online collection of free, open access digital content. 

For the past several years, members of the South Asia Open Archives initiative have been working collaboratively to build a robust collection of primary sources for researching, teaching, and learning about South Asia. Following its public launch in October 2019, SAOA has added hundreds of thousands of pages of newly digitized material from across the region. Now totaling over one-million pages of open-access primary source material, SAOA’s collection includes more than thirty-thousand items in twenty-seven different languages.  
When asked about SAOA’s recent accomplishment, Ryan Perkins, curator for South Asian and Islamic studies at Stanford Unviersity and chair of the SAOA Executive Board, said, "One million pages marks a true milestone for SAOA, but we couldn’t have done it without continued support from our members and partners—especially those in South Asia who are willing to digitize and share their rich collections." Laura Ring, librarian for Southern Asia & Anthropology at the University of Chicago, echoed this sentiment, noting that SAOA’s recent growth “is a testament to the power of collaboration.” 

SAOA's success in collaborative, open-access collection development extends beyond North American research libraries. It also serves students, scholars, and community members from South Asia and around the world. "SAOA does a great job of making content available to researchers and library patrons in South Asia," R. Prakash of Roja Muthiah Research Library in Chennai added. "It’s becoming such an important resource for scholars in South Asia, who struggle to gain access to these valuable and rare materials."
In addition to its growing archive of out-of-copyright colonial records, census reports, and newspaper reports, SAOA’s digital collection also includes Nepali literary journals, Marxist magazines in Tamil, serials supporting workers and labor organizations in Hindi and Urdu, and scientific journals from Sri Lanka. Many of these more recent publications have been digitized and made openly accessible through collaborative agreements with publishers and archivists in South Asia, who value SAOA's commitments to open access and collaboration. SAOA also includes a growing collection of digitized newspapers from the region.
With tens of thousands of users each month, SAOA’s innovative approach to open access digital collection development provides scholars with easy access to relevant primary sources and makes those materials freely and openly accessible to students and community members through the JSTOR community collections platform. "I’m excited to see where SAOA can go and what we can achieve," remarked Abhijit Bhattacharya, documentation officer at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, counting the several new additions planned for the coming months. "There’s so much more we can add to SAOA!"  
Read more about the South Asia Open Archives on the CRL website or visit the open access collection on JSTOR. If you or your institution would like to join or support SAOA, please contact

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