CONSALD Meeting 3/26/2015

March 26th, 2015
University of Chicago Library

Attendees : Deepa Banerjee, Bronwen Bledsoe, Sarah Calhoun, Fehl Cannon, Karen Farrell , Monica Ghosh, Gary Hausman, David Hirsch, Thibaut d’Hubert (faculty, Chicago), Sanjeep Kindo, Xin Li (Cornell), David Magier, Aruna Magier, Adnan Malik, Susan Meinheit, Roger Morales, James Nye, Laura Ring, James Simon, Urmila Sharma, Pushkar Sohoni.

Laura Ring welcomed members and introduced guests.

Minutes from the October 2014 Meeting were approved. A note was made to post those to the CONSALD website.

Laura Ring noted that Tim Bryson has announced his impending retirement (tentatively slated for September 2015).

James Simon reported on the CONSALD Treasury. Current balance: $840.42. Expenses of $359.64 (for Website hosting) will be applied, leaving a balance of $480.78.

LC Update

Fehl Cannon (Deputy Director, LC-New Delhi) reported on matters of the LC Field Office.

  • OFORS update: As of 10/1, using new system in New Delhi. Phasing out earlier system. Any orders as of Jan 1 are now in new system. Staff is user testing (creating IBC records in ILS, downloading into OFORs; testing cataloging workflows). They have created 5,000 monograph orders, 1228 serial orders in the new system. Of 6,000 extant serial titles, will enter orders on new/renewed subscriptions. Phase 1 (implementation) continues. Phase 2 (shipping, binding modules) still in development. Reports: working with DC, III, and contractor to create 11 critical reports. Still no timeframe on patron access.
  • Acquisitions: AUL for library services (DC) mandated 20% reduction in monographs acquired. New Delhi achieved reduction of 28% (principally in the areas of religion, literary criticism, art, literature). Working on a system to profile materials that LC reviews but does not acquire.
  • Profiles: Would like to look at the profiles with an eye toward improvements, changes to profiles. For discussion at next CONSALD?
  • Looking for a new bibliographic rep for the Maldives.
  • Sri Lanka: special project to create web archive for presidential election. Captured 25 sites (with permission). Has expanded to select PDF documents.
  • Nepal: Acquired 117 maps for Geography & Maps division. Will offer to CAP.
  • Bangladesh: office continues to function, but recent turmoil poses danger to staff.
  • Cataloging: catalogers also serve as recommenders for vernacular language. Cataloging arrearage is 7,300. Selection arrearage: 357. English, Bengali, Hindi are the largest backlogs.
  • Staffing: 3 vacancies filled. Down to 1 staff member in Receiving.

DSAL Update

Jim Nye reported on continuing work (“what’s old”) as well as new developments (“what’s new”).

  • Maintenance: installed a new server, cleaning up old .php scripts.
  • DDSA: Into year 1 of $300k NEH grant. Contracts in hand for many new dictionaries. Data entry moving forward. Exploring creating “apps “for Tamil dictionary. This may open new opportunities for collaboration, meshing with other intellectual resources.
  • Linguistic Survey: audio still offline. Working on solutions.
  • Postcards: Have a prototype, looking to improve interface and searching.
  • Maps: full set of ½” : 1mile sheets have been scanned, but haven’t had staff to put up usefully. Collaboration with Professor Tsukasa Mizushima (University of Tokyo) will support additional scanning and GIS implementation. Connecting to “India Place Finder” (GIS coordinates for entities down to sub-district level).
  • SAUC: Work continuing to convert BL holdings of vernacular material, in collaboration with colleagues in South Asia. Online records will be available in the foreseeable future.
  • Audio: Hoping to work with Lawrence Berkeley Lab to develop fully functional portable IRENE system. May also apply to EU for more digitizing of recordings from wax cylinders in Berlin.
  • Chicago is hopeful a summer intern position will help to a) mount backlogged material (including SAMP resources), b) work with Tokyo & maps, and c) help consider what to do with data sets. What kinds of data are of interest? What sources? Scholarly contributions? May lead to new proposals.


Bronwen Bledsoe and James Simon re-capped the results of the 2014 South Asia Cooperative Collection Development Workshop.

  • Profile review successfully highlighted areas of further cooperation. Regional groups committed to ongoing discussion and action in the coming year.
  • Discussion about collection assessment suggested areas where we might compare our collective strengths/weaknesses for additional cooperation.
  • The 2015 workshop will again be held in Madison, at which we will examine cooperative collecting for Pakistan, explore more granularity in profiles, and discuss refinements in collecting in GAC areas. Suggestions and volunteers are welcomed.

Scholars’ Panel – Sources for Research on South Asia

Laura Ring introduced the three scholars attending the meeting and invited them to discuss their research and the resources used.

  • Siddharth Chandra (Professor of Economics at James Madison College at Michigan State University and Director of MSU's Asian Studies Center) described his work in using South Asian resources at the University of Chicago and across the country in his study of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its impact on Colonial British India. His use of the Census of India (and Ceylon), as well as provincial sanitary reports (included in the Official Publications of India collection at Chicago) provided the base of statistical information from which Dr. Chandra could assess the demographic impact of the pandemic, the pattern of spread, and the evolution of the virus as it swept the subcontinent.
  • Sabrina Datoo (doctoral student at University of Chicago) discussed her dissertation work on Yunani medicine in Colonial India (c.1880 – 1930). In her work, she employs Urdu medical periodicals and print books as sources to trace the formation of a medical subjectivity amongst North India's ashraf. Her sources include official publications, Urdu print books, and Urdu journals held in the U.S. as well as those in collections and archives in India. She identified potential sources by assessing the colonial registers of books published in India. Datoo emphasized the importance of medical sources in interpreting the cultural milieu in which it was created. Medical texts are useful for the study of history of politics, culture, medical culture, and relationships in society. She also reflected on some of the experiences of a researcher in India, including the challenges of developing trust with the archive curators.
  • Thibaut d’Hubert (Assistant Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago) studies the literary history of Bengal. Among his many research endeavors is the creation of a database for study of Indo-Persian philology. Titled the Hashiya Project, the database allows for rich tagging and enhancement of classical Persian texts, linking to the extensive published commentary on the texts. The work allows for rich study of the source material, but also acts as a tutorial for how other students and researchers can approach and use this type of material.

Discussion following the presentation reflected on the diversity of sources and innovative uses of “evergreen resources” in different ways. The scholars thanked the CONSALD representatives for their work and encouraged further collecting, digitization and accessibility (“democratizing access”).

JSTOR update

Jason Przybylski (JSTOR) presented an update on Asian Studies content within JSTOR. Since his last presentation in 2012, 45 additional titles have been added (now totaling 119). Usage of the Asian Studies content is steady (content ranks #12 of 70 collections in terms of use). Additional content will be included in the next release (Arts & Sciences XIV).

There are currently 16 journals with a focus on South Asia. Admittedly, this is less than the other Asian regions. Jason explained some of the challenges of obtaining permissions, including making contact, educating publishers about JSTOR, negotiating permissions, and prioritizing content relative to other content being added. Many publishers simply do not respond. Jason asked for any suggestions on how to improve responsiveness of publishers.

In general, JSTOR prefers to negotiate content for currently-published journals, rather than ceased titles. Libraries tend to value currently published sources, and use is highest for most recent material. It might be possible to consider special funding models for historical (i.e., non-current) collections.

Continuing forward, JSTOR expects to add more Asian Studies content; will explore a potential “Asia Collection” (primarily marketed to Asian institutions); and continues to seek opportunities to create multi-format collections.

James Nye inquired whether JSTOR has considered the ARTSTOR model of allowing content contributions from participants. Jason replied this would need careful consideration of rights & permissions.

Journals Subcommittee Report

Aruna Magier, journals subcommittee leader, reported on the main foci of the committee since October: major journal databases & SALToC.

  • BAS update: The Bibliography of Asian Studies advisory committee continue to discuss issues of interface and management of the database. The committee will imminently meet with Michael Pascal and EBSCO to consider moving BAS to EBSCO. The AAS Board is cognizant of potential price increases, and has stated a condition of transfer is that prices shall not radically escalate.
  • SALToC: Currently, the South Asian Language Journals Cooperative Table of Contents Project has 17 titles. Berkeley has recently joined. Aruna demonstrated the interface and advantages of linking ToCs to the OCLC record. An RSS feed from the platform can alert users as to new titles/issues added.
  • ABIA: Brill has recently assumed management of the Index of South and Southeast Asian Art and Archeology (ABIA). Institutions are encouraged to request a trial, and consider whether we should approach Brill with a consortial offer.

Role for CONSALD in User Studies/Assessment

Laura Ring presented on the challenges of assessment of use of South Asian collections. There are very few assessment studies in our field. In a small test project, Chicago tracked the use of print journal titles by marking new journals with wafer seals. After one year of testing, it was found that only 20% of the collection had been used at least once. This statistic, however, is consistent with collection use in general.

Laura inquired whether cross-institutional benchmarking (via CONSALD) would provide greater insight into the use, importance, and discoverability of content, particularly vernacular content. Some potential approaches might be comparing small studies, like the aforementioned Chicago study, or a broader multi-institution user study undertaken by an organization such as Ithaka S&R.

Members agreed that further discussion on this issue would be useful. Xin Li cautioned that faculty are increasingly overwhelmed by requests for surveys. It may be useful to examine previous surveys to see whether we can learn from them (“humans have more commonality than differences”). She volunteered to share information on a recent faculty survey at Cornell.

The committee adjourned for a tour of the Mansueto Library, followed by a group dinner courtesy of the University of Chicago Library.

Submitted by James Simon


Group content visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users