CONSALD Meeting minutes
October 11, 2012
Attendance: James Simon (CRL) [Chair]; Jim Nye (Chicago); Laura Ring (Chicago); Judy Alspach (CRL); David Faust (Minnesota); Mara Thacker (Illinois); David Hirsch (UCLA); Edward Proctor (Duke); Gary Hausman (Princeton); Pushkar Sohoni (UPenn); Mary Rader (Wisconsin); Bronwen Bledsoe (Cornell); Jeff Martin (Michigan); Lana Soglasnova (Toronto); Philip McEldowney (Virginia); Aruna Magier (NYU); David Magier (Princeton); Edward Miner (Iowa); Sarah Calhoun (Yale); Phong Tran (LC); Carol Mitchell (LC-Islamabad); Laila Mulgaokar (LC-Delhi).
Welcome and Introductions. No new members were present.
Minutes of March 2012 were approved.
Treasury report: Simon reported that we began the year with a $244 balance, and were faced with an impending $250 bill for 3-years of website support and hosting. Voluntary contributions from members in the amount of $580 brought the balance to $822. Our only expenses are website support and incidentals (e.g. snacks and beverages).
CONSALD Website Roll-out: Simon prefaced the presentation with an update and some questions. The CONSALD Website is moving to Drupal, a more robust system, and various members of the Website committee (Tim Bryson, Gary Hausman, Phil McEldowney, James Simon, Mara Thacker, Sarah Calhoun, and Pushkar Sohoni) have been working on archiving the old site and getting a BETA version in place. Some information is not yet included in this demo view; currently, it’s just a repository for committee work, membership, historical information on SALNAQ. Simon asked members to think about what we want for the site, specifically, what should be included in “Resource recommendations.” Do we envision this as a “Scholar’s portal,” with information for scholars as well as librarians? Some of the information will need to be populated by CONSALD members. There will be a log-in for a member’s view; more information to come at the AAS meeting in March.
Gary Hausman presented on themes in Drupal 7 (of which there are 382, some free, some subscription-based, all customizable). The priority is to select a well-received, well tested Drupal 7 theme, which works on a variety of browsers and platforms. Hausman reviewed general style options (Corporate, Magazine, Blog-like, Mixed), and presented some possible choices along with his recommendations. He asked for feedback from members, and suggested that we look through the highlighted themes and send in our comments. A brief group discussion on the themes followed. Hausman agreed to distribute his Power Point Presentation to the group. After a few weeks, the Website committee will make their recommendations, and present them to the members for a vote.
BAS Evaluation & Update: Per Simon, there was some discussion over the summer among the board of AAS about the cost-benefit of the Bibliography of Asian Studies. The board took this through to different committees to weigh in with a one-page paper on the pros and cons of continuing the BAS. The CONSALD Executive Board collected scholar and librarian comments and put together a balanced but emphatic statement in support of the BAS. The statement included the delineation of improvements we’d like to see – improvements which would require some investment of AAS funds. The issue will be discussed at the AAS Board meeting in mid-October. David Magier pointed out that the BAS is a profit center, not a cost, and that those that didn’t write in support of BAS are nonetheless voting with the pocket books by subscribing.
JSTOR follow-on: At last meeting’s discussion of South Asia Journals in JSTOR with a JSTOR representative, we committed to having further discussions on what South Asia journals should be targeted for inclusion, and how they might be packaged. A subgroup was formed to come up with suggestions according to rational criteria. Aruna Magier, Laura Ring, Jeff Martin and David Hirsch volunteered. The following issues were raised:
- JSTOR is looking for long runs of respected journals. We have a list of highly subscribed journals, and info on whether these have been indexed. Is this a good place to start our review?
- Is it better to prioritize journals that aren’t indexed?
- Would JSTOR accept print journals that have dabbled with putting themselves online?
- Select based on excellence, and a desire to see full text run
- Seek scholarly input on what people would like
- How will the material be packaged? Is it more marketable as an Area Studies rather than South Asia package? Non-Roman package?
- JSTOR hasn’t been very aggressive about securing journals that have ceased publication. JSTOR wants continuing publications for continued revenue stream, though that may be changing, especially since they’re considering monographs, which are “dead.”
- Himal Southasian a likely candidate
- Do we want to pursue ebooks? Do our patrons want them?
- Criteria for South Asia-related ebooks: Short list of publishers? Scholarly associations, institutions; OUP ebooks? Older material for data-mining; collections of tried, tested titles; reference titles would be especially useful; statistics and data are more desired by scholars than ebooks.
Non-roman script support in OCLC: Per Simon, OCLC would like our feedback on what scripts we would like to see supported. OCLC currently claims to support: Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Assamese, Chinese, Cyrillic, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Nepali, Sherpa, Devanagari, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Tamil and Thai. The group emphatically agreed that Urdu is not, in fact, fully supported. The group discussed what other languages we want supported. Nye argued that the number of books held in various languages should be a part of the equation. David Hirsch related his experience with convincing OCLC to support Armenian (which took four years, but seems to have worked). Difficulties with automatic transliteration were discussed, as was legacy data, and strategies for getting around validation problems. The group agreed that getting Urdu fully supported was the top priority. David Hirsch and Pushkar Sohoni will work with James Simon to push OCLC on the Urdu question.
Round Robin Redux:
- Edward Proctor reported on his trip to [various UK libraries], where folks were very interested in our attempt to collaborate vis-à-vis the “national collection.” UK libraries are losing institutional memory, have lost a lot of staff; growing interest in popular literature, qissa kahani, etc. Facing problems with preservation; want to digitize, but budget issues preclude it. No one was optimistic about the future; thought it would be 20 or 30 years before it would improve. Closer to home, Duke Professor Sumati Ramaswami received a grant and Ed will work with her on a project on Moghul miniatures. Duke trying to pick up Urdu poetry, as Chapel Hill has had to drop it. Proctor discussed Duke’s project to collect and microfilm textbooks and other materials related to early western education in India, esp. publications of the Church Mission Society, School Text Book Society in Calcutta, London Mission Society, if money allows.
- Aruna Magier reported on her trip to India to visit archives and libraries in Guwahati, Assam. She discussed the gaps in our collections for northeast India, and the poor condition of collections in Assam. Government initiatives include surveys for manuscripts and funding for digitization, but problems abound and more international collaboration is needed. NYU will be collecting heavily from the northeast. One particularly rare and important acquisition is the first Assamese film ever made, soon to be added to NYU’s collection.
- David Hirsch remarked on Liladhar Pendse’s grant from the British library to digitize French-Indian publications from the 19th and early 20th century. Hirsch will send details to the CONSALD list.
- David Faust remarked on the difficulties in supporting requests for expensive South Asian documentaries. A discussion followed on ways to collaborate vis-à-vis film, the restrictions surrounding streaming content, possibly sharing bibliographic data on recent titles acquired, and the importance of making discs available for interlibrary loan.
SAMP update (Judy Alspaugh): SAMP elections will need to be held in the next month or two. We need a nominating committee to select candidates for 1 faculty rep and 1 librarian rep. Brownwen Bledsoe is on the committee, and the current chair is David Faust, whose two-year term is ending. Durba Ghosh is a faculty rep, and Rebecca Manring’s seat is up, though she can be renominated. At the Toronto meetings, the group discussed digitization guidelines, and decided to review what other AMPs have used as a model for our own statement. Sarah Calhoun, Monica Ghosh and Mara Thacker have been tweaking the language, which we’ll be seeing shortly so we can vote on this in March. This will result in changes to the bylaws, which will also need to be voted on.
- The group congratulated Sarah Calhoun, who has been promoted to Department head of the South Asia collection; she is the whole department, no longer temporary. Her title is still Assistant Curator, though that may change.
- The group honored the memory of Maureen Patterson, a “formidable figure who made breathtaking contributions to the field.” She had been severely ill for many years, after a stroke; she died at the end of September.
- Simon reported on retirees Andrea Singer and Allen Thrasher (who intended to attend but couldn’t make it); they’re both doing well; Rajwant Chilana sends his best to everyone.
- Edward Miner thanked CRL for digitizing several years of Hindustan Times from the 1930s to facilitate a course project for a class in Iowa.
- David Magier mentioned the recent legal victory for Hathi Trust and its partners, whose scanning of copyrighted materials was deemed “Fair Use” by the judge.
DSAL/DDSA/SAUC update (Nye): Nye reported that the loss of funding for TICFIA has left DSAL without staffing, but that projects are moving forward nonetheless.
- The Record News of Bombay is now available in its complete run. It includes discographic information.
- The Linguistic Survey has been augmented; Grierson’s audio recordings are now complemented with page images; they are not searchable, but the hope is that OCR will make the content searchable, however roughly.
- Dictionaries continue to be added, despite lack of funding; Gundert’s dictionary for Malayalam is now up, and the DeeCee dictionary for Malayalam is in process. Maxine Berntsen’s Marathi dictionary is online, along with the multivolume Maharashtra Shabdakhosha, and a historical dictionary of old Marathi. For Oriya, we have a first pass of a multivolume lexical set. For Sinhala, Carter’s older dictionary is now running; we hope to make a monolingual Sinhala dictionary available in the near future. Finally, for Urdu, the Fallon dictionary has come on line. Upcoming additions include Kashmiri, Manipuri and Panjabi; Dunwoody Press, an important publisher from Maryland, will feed us the data for other languages.
- Postcard collection from Graham Shaw is under development, with metadata being created by Chicago; hope to get it up for use in the next few months. More postcards have been given by Graham Shaw, with a total of 12,000.
- India Placefinder, a project led by Mizushima at the University of Tokyo and for which we’ve provided maps and will be providing web hosting, continues to be augmented. Mizushima has shape files for all villages and points for hamlets.
- Our work on maps has been completed, despite loss of funding; we have completed scanning for all pre-1947 ½- inch to the mile topo sheets of maps covering Afghanistan to Burma, and Tibet to the Maldive Islands. We’ve begun conversations in Delhi with ML Info Map, and Manoshi Lahiri is keen for enhancing access.
- The National Sound Archive has agreed to lend their microfilms of EMI catalogs of HMV recordings. The microfilm will be digitized in Madras to produce page images for all the catalogs (up to 1942), which will then be placed on line.
- University of Chicago is funding the scanning of the 1901 through 1931 censuses. Those will be available fairly soon. They’ll be presented first as PDF files; if we secure external funding for data set collection, we may be able to present it in more usable form.
Borrow Direct Cooperative Collection Development (Calhoun): Calhoun reported on discussions between South and Southeast Asian librarians within the Borrow Direct system on how to approach cooperative collection development. How can we best make use of Borrow Direct, in the face of limited funds? A meeting was held at Yale in the spring, with many CONSALD members in attendance. Princeton will host the second meeting, and the third one will be held at Yale again next spring.
Leiden conference (Simon): Simon reported on “Linking Data in Cultural Studies on South and Southeast Asia,” a roundtable organized by the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands. The two-day workshop included representatives from the UK, US, Netherlands, France and Germany. CONSALD members Jim Nye, Aruna Magier, David Magier, and James Simon were in attendance. The goal of the workshop was to explore ways to bring together our various, siloed indexes and digital resources to allow for uniform searching solutions. This was a preliminary conversation that will hopefully lead to joint project proposals.
Current news preservation/cooperative digitization/status of preservation (Gary Hausman): The group discussed the difficulties we face in preserving and making accessible current newspapers from South Asia. Publisher’s online archives are not reliable. Many of us are acquiring, but far fewer are keeping, current newspapers. LC, the “principal agency for preserving news content from South Asia,” is microfilming some, but they have scaled back due to budgetary woes; moreover, due to copyright concerns they can longer sell the films without publisher permission. Laila will bring this issue up with Washington. The problem extends far beyond South Asia; we need to balance current news needs with historical research needs. Microfilming and/or a trusted digital repository are the only realistic long-term solutions for our users. Ananda Bazar Patrika was discussed as a possible test case (as well as the sister publication Jugantar); per Simon, CRL is working to get the early backfile of Amrita Bazar Patrika (via CSSSC). Another note: The Hindu is looking to host their own digitized backfile. The executive board will work to formulate an action item for this issue.
Best practices for acquisitions/cataloging assistants (Calhoun): This began as a discussion on technical services and cataloging. How are people handling non-SACAP material? To what level are people taking their records? Might it be useful to do a survey of all our tech services departments to see the distribution of capabilities, language expertise, etc.? Phong Tran offered to serve as a resource person, to field questions about cataloging and policy.
The discussion then turned to the question of mentoring. How are our young colleagues doing? What are useful ways of sharing our experience and expertise? The CONSALD listserv and website were mentioned, as were more specialized cataloging and tech services listservs. An idea was floated to establish a postdoc or movable internship, with time spent in the field offices, and at various US institutions to see the different ways things are done. Perhaps Mellon could fund this. Finally, the discussion turned to the state of area studies collections and services. Increasingly, libraries are pressured to build collections for immediate use, rather than for future needs. It was pointed out that our collections are special collections, and need to be framed as such. Unlike other fields, we cannot abandon print; we do things traditionally for a reason. It was proposed that we create a joint statement on area studies, disciplines, global studies, and the special nature of our collections.
Preservation of Film (Aruna Magier): Aruna discussed the state of film preservation in the subcontinent, including the efforts of the National Film Archives of India. She mentioned the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM), a Government of India initiative aimed at film preservation and currently seeking foreign partners. The particularly precarious position of regional films was also discussed. In the northeast of India, for example, only 40 films so far have been preserved, all from Assam. Sri Lanka’s documentary preservation project, supported by US ambassador’s funds, was mentioned as a project that was hampered by political change, as was a preservation project associated with the Nepal Development Board, which started ambitiously but was never completed. The group discussed the legal issues involved in making preservation copies of films in our collections. Aruna mentioned NYU’s Mellon-funded grant “VIDEO AT RISK: Strategies for Preserving Commercial Video Collections in Research Libraries.”
Spring meeting: Plans are in development. We are still looking for a venue, and are considering meeting at the San Diego Museum of Art, which has a strong Asian collection. Their librarian is willing to host us. The museum is 2 ½ miles from the conference hotel; do we want convenience or museum awesomeness? Members generally favored a more interesting locale.