CRL and JSTOR partner to make South Asian materials openly available online

(16 Oct 2019) CRL has partnered with JSTOR to make collections from the South Asia Open Archives openly available on JSTOR at saoa.crl.edu.

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) is a rich and growing collection of historical and contemporary sources covering the arts, humanities, and social sciences, in English and South Asian languages, from and about South Asia. SAOA has been made possible through a collaborative grassroots initiative of U.S. research libraries and partners from South Asia and has grown out of the work of the South Asia Materials Project (SAMP), which has been preserving rare and endangered South Asian materials since 1967. Administered by CRL, SAOA digitally preserves and makes freely available all of its content. It is enriched by substantial contributions of content, as well as human and material resources from a community of libraries, research centers, archives, and other institutions. A launch event for the SAOA digital collections will be held on October 18, 2019, during the Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison, WI.

The partnership making SAOA collections available on JSTOR is part of a new initiative that enables libraries and consortia to host their primary source collections on the platform. This arrangement leverages the JSTOR infrastructure to make content openly accessible to millions of researchers who use JSTOR, where it becomes searchable alongside the books, journals, and other primary source materials on the platform.

Greg Eow, president of CRL, emphasized the importance of this partnership between CRL and JSTOR: “The launch of SAOA underscores our commitment to enhancing the diversity of research materials on South Asia as well as to fostering open access models for digital content that ensure the widest possible global audience.” According to SAOA Executive Board member David Magier, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Collections and Research Services at Princeton University, “SAOA breaks new ground. It’s such an exciting example of how far international collaboration can take us in a non-commercial project to curate and bring out essential and unique content for free global access in support of research and teaching: the highest ideal of the library community.”

“We are extremely excited to partner with SAOA and CRL to expand access to these important open access materials for the global research and learning community,” said Kevin Guthrie, president of ITHAKA, JSTOR’s parent organization. “Students and scholars need access to primary source materials to do great original work. This joint effort will not only make that process more convenient, but will introduce researchers to content they didn’t even know existed, thereby opening up gateways to new knowledge.”

The South Asia Open Archives contains more than 350,000 pages of content, and will continue to grow. It includes important Colonial-era administrative and trade reports, as well as newspapers dealing with themes of caste and social structure, social and economic history, women and gender, and more. SAOA Executive Board Co-Chair Aruna Magier, Librarian for South Asian Studies at NYU, said, “It is gratifying to have a structure in place that lets us work with scholars to understand their particular research interests, and then pursue partnerships with libraries and archives that hold the resources to fulfill those needs, preserving the fruits of this work and sharing them freely with the world.”

The press release is here.