Selection Guidelines

The Selection Guidelines, prepared by the Content Curation Working Group, help guide the evolution and expansion of SAOA’s curated collection, building on SAOA’s first Five-Year Plan, its five years of evolving collection development experience, and the FY21-25 Five-Year Plan. In our second five years we will broaden SAOA’s collection scope to incorporate additional themes, more coverage of under-represented geographic areas of South Asia, greater diversity of languages, communities, new resource types (such as audio/visual material, video, data sets, and maps), and wider date coverage (including post-colonial materials). With these criteria in mind, SAOA considers proposals submitted by anyone through its online suggestion form.


(The following themes are not mutually exclusive, due to their multidisciplinary scope.)

  • Social, Economic and Political History
  • Literature (including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, criticism, literary history, and biographies)
  • Women, Gender & Sexuality
  • Caste, Tribes & Social Structure
  • History of Science (including history of medicine)
  • Art History (including history of architecture)

Resource Types

  1. Official publications from colonial British India
    • Census reports, both before and after independence (SAOA has already digitized the decennial reports from 1871 to 1951, and plans to fill in gaps.)
    • Statistical reports, such as those on agriculture, land revenue and settlement, trade, commerce, and sanitation
    • Annual reports of departments produced for the Presidencies and Princely States. Prioritized categories of the India Office Collections - Official Publications include:
      • V/10 - Administration Reports
      • V/17 - Trade and Navigation Statements
      • V/24 - Departmental annual reports
      • V/26 - Committee and commission reports (for example, on plague and famine)
    • Gazetteers, including publications at the provincial and district levels, as well as those of the Princely States.
      • Imperial Gazetteer of India Provincial Series
      • Regional Gazetteers: District Gazetteers of all the Presidencies and Princely States
  2. Resources from colonial Ceylon and Nepal
  3. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century serials and newspapers
    • From the India Office Collections - Official Publications:
      • V/6 - India Office serials
      • V/16 - Public Finance Serials
      • V/25 - Indian serials
    • Specific titles for digitization should be selected from standard bibliographies, such as:
    • SAOA has already digitized a portion of the holdings of the Native Newspaper Reports, and plans to fill in gaps for out-of-copyright materials
    • SAOA will continue collecting national, regional, and local newspapers. Specific topics could include trade and commerce, revolutionary newspapers and related to women
  4. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century monographs
    • SAOA will prioritize titles from the National Bibliography of Indian Literature, 1901-1953 (NBIL). Microfilm of titles already preserved under the Microfilming of Indian Publications Project (MIPP). MIPP materials should be scanned from the microfilm, and titles not yet preserved under MIPP should be digitized from print. (SAOA has already digitized some MIPP microfilm holdings from CRL, and plans to expand on the languages.)
  5. Audio and video resources (Including music performance and instruction, as well as interviews and oral histories)
  6. Visual resources (Including photographic archives and maps)
  7. Data sets
  8. Manuscript and archival collections (such as the Muslim League papers, the Indian National Congress papers and official correspondence, and manuscript collections (e.g. Columbia’s collection of Sanskrit manuscripts)

Collection Development and Collaboration Considerations

  • SAOA will fill in gaps, strengthening and enriching its current thematic collections: Social & Economic History, Literature, Women & Gender, and Caste & Social Structure.
  • In applying these Selection Guidelines, SAOA takes into account its Selection Principles.
  • Working under the auspices of the Center for Research Libraries, SAOA identifies collaboration partners and new SAOA members that are able to provide important resources for digitization, such as the Roja Muthiah Research Library (Chennai), Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (Kathmandu), Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre (Karachi), CrossAsia (Heidelberg), and other interested institutions worldwide. SAOA works with member organizations of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (including the American Institutes in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).
  • Additional factors SAOA considers when identifying resources to target for digitization include requirements and formal agreements for institutional collaboration with holding libraries; distribution of coverage across disciplines, languages, and geographical regions (selectively including diasporic communities); and the extent to which SAOA digitization can complement existing, well-established open-access initiatives.

Dated: May 15, 2020 & Updated June 4, 2020.

Prepared by the Content Curation Working Group: Aruna Magier (Chair), Deepa Banerjee, Abhijit Bhattacharya, Gary Hausman, Jeffrey Martin, Gautham Reddy

Featured: Unique Urdu and Hindi Collection

Prof. Robert Phillips, lecturer for the Program in South Asian Studies at Princeton University, teaches courses in Hindi-Urdu and South Asian Studies, and has used both South Asia Materials Project (SAMP) and CRL resources to support different research, writing, and teaching projects.

Accessing Āmukha in SAMP’s holdings offered an opportunity to incorporate the crucial - but often less-collected - genre of the little magazine into his research on Hindi modernism and a subsequent conference presentation.