South Asian Collection - Collections


The International and Area Studies Library maintains an excellent collection of printed and electronic resources that support teaching and research in South Asian studies. The collection covers India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, though coverage is strongest for India. The collection has both English and vernacular language materials with priority being given to materials in Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tamil. The primary focus of the South Asian collections is on humanities and social sciences and is strong in the areas of linguistics, literature, geography, history, Indology, philosophy, religious studies, cultures, societies and women studies.

Currently, there are more than 135,000 volumes in vernacular languages that include books and serials in Assamese, Bengali, Burmese, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and other dialects.

Reference works and a selection of current serials in English and South Asian languages are housed in the International and Area Studies Library on the third floor of the Main Library, with all other materials being housed in the Main Stacks and other departmental libraries.

Revised April 2013


Collection Description


The South Asian collection at the University of Illinois was developed to support teaching and research in South Asian Studies and related interdisciplinary fields. The undergraduate interdisciplinary minor and the M.A. in South Asian Studies are administered by the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The Ph.D. is offered only in the academic disciplines, but a South Asia minor or research focus on Asian countries is possible.

The Library’s collection development effort is concentrated on the selection of South  Asian vernacular materials and appropriate reference works in Western languages. Reference materials as well as selected serials are housed in the International and Area Studies Library which officially opened in 2012. All other materials are housed in the Main Stacks or, occasionally, other branch libraries on the UIUC camps.

The majority of the South Asian collection has been acquired through the Library of Congress South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program. Western language works, published in the countries covered by the LC program, are supplied by the program and are cataloged for the Main Stacks. Western language materials in South Asian studies published in other parts of the world are primarily selected by departmental librarians for their libraries or the Main Stacks. Western language works on South Asian languages and literatures are selectively purchased on South Asian funds in conjunction with comparative literature, linguistics, and undergraduate library funds.

History of Collection

The South Asian Library was established within the Special Languages Department in 1965. In 1979, it was consolidated with the Far Eastern Library into the Asian Library. Then in 2011, the Asian Library became part of the new International and Area Studies Library. The South Asian collection, which has grown from 5,000 volumes in 1965 to over 125,000 volumes today, has been developed almost exclusively by participation in various programs connected with the Library of Congress Foreign Acquisitions Program described in Public Law 480. This program has evolved into the Special Foreign Currency (SFC) Program, funded by the federal government, and the Library of Congress Cooperative Program, which is funded by participating libraries. The Library has been a full participant in the SFC programs for India and Pakistan since 1963 and receives materials in English and selected other major languages of the region. The Library was a full participant for Nepalese materials from 1966 to 1982, when the Library opted for English language materials only. There was full language coverage on the LC programs for publications of Sri Lanka from 1967 to 1973, and for publications of Bangladesh from January 1972 to September 1973. From 1985, English language publications from these two countries are received on the LC program

Estimate of Holdings

217,000 volumes consisting of 110,000 volumes in Indic languages.

State, Regional and National Importance

The South Asian collection is one of several Midwestern libraries participating in the SFC Program. We have one of the most extensive collections of South Asian DVDs in the region and the most comprehensive Indian comic and graphic novel collection in North America.

Unit Responsible for Collecting

The International and Area Studies Library is responsible for vernacular materials and a selection of Western language reference works, journals and studies on Asian languages and literatures and translations from Asian literature.

Location of Materials

Reference works and a selection of current serials in English and South Asian languages are housed in the International and Area Studies Library located on the third floor of the Main Library. All other materials can be found in the Main Stacks and in various departmental libraries.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection

None known.

General Collection Guidelines


The collection contains materials in the 12 Indic languages on the LC Program for India and Pakistan, especially Hindi and Urdu. Currently, however, the LC Program subscriptions are limited to English, Hindi, Prakrit, Sanksrit, Tamil and Urdu.

Chronological Guidelines

No restrictions.

Geographical Guidelines

South Asia, with primary emphasis on India and Pakistan but also including Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan and the Maldives. Vernacular materials from Southeast Asia are not currently being acquired.

Treatment of Subject

The primary focus is on aspects of the languages, cultures, history, peoples, and societies of South Asia. Materials are also heavily acquired on the subject of agriculture.

Types of Materials:

In addition to acquiring standard monographs and serials, we also acquire South Asian films/DVDs and have a special collection of Indian comic books and graphic novels.

Date of Publication

Standard statement.

Place of Publication

No restrictions. Primarily South Asian countries.

Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

South Asian Studies Collection





Reference works:
Vernacular materials 3 South Asian
Western language materials 3 South Asian / Reference
Hindi language and literature:
Vernacular materials 3 South Asian
Western language materials 3 South Asian / Comparative Literature / Linguistics / Undergraduate
Other Indic languages and literatures 2 South Asian
South Asian history 2 South Asian
South Asian politics and government 2 South Asian
Hinduism and religious studies 2 South Asian
Anthropology (social and cultural) 2 South Asian
Sociology (including social work) 2 South Asian
Art 2 South Asian
Economics (public finance, statistics, banking, taxation) 2 South Asian

Version Date: March 2013