South Asia Open Archives Launched: University Library a Founding Supporter


Logo for the SAOA

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), which creates and maintains a collection of open access materials for the study of South Asia, launched on October 18, 2019, at the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library is a founding supporter of SAOA. The Center for Global Studies at Illinois has also provided support for SAOA over the last few years.

The South Asia Open Archives is a rich and growing curated collection of key research materials from and about the region of South Asia, with historical and contemporary sources covering a variety of subjects in English and other South Asian languages. SAOA preserves, digitizes, and makes its content freely accessible to the world on the web. It is the product of a collaborative initiative of a broad consortium of research libraries in South Asia and around the world, including the University Library at Illinois, and their respective South Asian Studies librarians. It is enriched by substantial contributions of content—human and material resources from a community of libraries, research centers, archives, and other institutions partnering to bring these resources out for global scholarship and pedagogy.

According to Illinois’ South Asian Studies & Global Popular Culture Librarian Mara Thacker, “Seeing the launch of this product is gratifying both because it is the fruition of many years of work, and also because it provides critical access to primary source materials from South Asia that creates new possibilities for open access scholarship. SAOA’s successful launch speaks to the value of consulting librarian scholars with deep subject expertise in the creation of new resources. Finally, on a personal note I think it’s also a really powerful statement to see a grassroots, librarian-led initiative creating our own solutions to some of the problems posed by commercial publishers in recent years.”

The SAOA contains nearly 350,000 page images, with 13 languages represented. It is administratively hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), and presented online for open access in partnership with JSTOR/Ithaka.

The South Asia Open Archives is located online at

The Center for Research Libraries is an international consortium of university, college, and independent research libraries based in Chicago, Illinois. Additional information is located at

Ithaka is a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. For more information, visit

JSTOR, a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students, is part of Ithaka. More information is found at

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