Monday, September 6, 2010

South Asia Ephemera Collection

The "South Asia Ephemera Collection" is a very valuable and rich resource for researchers in the area, providing government and organizational pamphlets on almost any topic ranging from social and political events, movements, information, and ideas, as well as language, linguistics, music, film, festivals, religious groups and leaders. The focus is on the 1970s and 80s and India, but pamphlets continue to be collected in to the 21st century and also cover Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.

[Important update on the 6th of June 2011. There are two major sources for South Asia ephemera or pamphlets- Library of Congress database and Duke University Inventory of South Asian Pamphlets Collection. The Duke Collection covers 7500 English pamphlets from 1920-2005, while the LC database consists of 1851 sets of topical grouped titles, dating mainly from 1986.  There is some overlap, and there are gaps held by neither.  The Duke collection lacks non-English materials and a small number of English materials, and the LC database has hardly any pre-1986 materials. How to remedy these gaps?]

Most of these ephemera or pamphlets have been microfilmed and are available from the Library of Congress or / and the Center for Research Libraries. The microforms are organized in 1851 sets - each set contains around 10-20 pamphlets on the topic of the title and lists a table of contents of pamphlet titles arranged alphabetically.

The New Delhi Library of Congress has a database for the ephemeral publications they have produced on microfiche.  You can search for the microfiched titles in that database 

As an example, here is a search result from
"Castes in India, Part 1":

Also the Center for Research Libraries scans content from LC fiche in response to scholar requests. An example can be seen here:

Here are two documents on this 1) A short bilbiography and 2) a spreadsheet with further information
1) To see a sample list of titles, click
RefWorks version
or PDF
or WorldCat SA Ephemera References

2) Here is a spreadsheet with further information
PDF - OCLC spreadsheet

What might we do to further enhance access and use of this collection?  Perhaps 1) digitize the pamphlets and 2) catalog the individual pamphlet titles.

1) Digitization of the original pamphets might add considerable valuable and provide ready access.  Many of the documents are in color or contain photographs - the black and white microform versions of these pamphlets are often difficulty to read without color.  Furthermore many researchers dislike using microforms and find searching and reading them to be very difficult. On the other hand, regularized digitization procedures and projects are more readily available in 2010 than ever before.

2) Cataloging the titles would further enhance access to the pamphlets in this large collection.  Already the microform sets contain table of contents of the alphabetized titles.  It would be a matter of making a searchable master list tied to the microform sets.  If the collection was digitized, those titles could also be linked to the master list or cataloged separately.

Both projects (digitization and cataloging) may take a considerable amount of time and efforts from several library staff members.  If anyone has sugguests or proposals for these projects, please let us know.

No comments:

Post a Comment