Princeton University Library plays integral role in groundbreaking South Asia Open Archives initiative

SAOA logo

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), a growing curated collection of more than 350,000 pages of digitized historical and contemporary sources in the arts, humanities, and social sciences from and about South Asia, is now available for open access online. SAOA was born as a collaborative grassroots initiative of U.S. research libraries, including Princeton University Library (PUL), working closely with other partner projects, libraries, archives, and research centers in the U.S. and South Asia. The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) has provided an administrative home for SAOA, while JSTOR provides the hosting platform for the online implementation, with advanced database features.

“SAOA breaks new ground,” said David Magier, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Collections and Research Services at PUL and SAOA executive board member. “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.”

Five years ago, when the vision for this initiative was first developed, Magier joined an initial working group on behalf of PUL to help launch SAOA and secure the needed funding and partnerships to digitize and preserve rare and endangered South Asian materials. Later, when the open access initiative was fully underway and became a formal consortium, PUL joined as a founding member and helped develop the project's infrastructure, including consulting with PUL's Information Technology, Imaging, and Metadata Services. 

Since then, Magier has served on SAOA’s working groups, and has been elected twice to SAOA’s executive board. He has played a central role in developing the project's policies, guidelines, and international relationships. Ellen Ambrosone, South Asian Studies Librarian at PUL, recently joined this effort, serving as a member of the project's Funding Working Group where Magier is the chair. This group works to secure grants and develop sustainable funding models for SAOA. 

SAOA’s rich collections include Colonial-era books, journals, women's magazines, census reports, newspapers and administrative documents, relating to themes of caste and social structure, social and economic history, literature, and women and gender. Its contents and thematic scope will continue to grow. 

Read more in the full press release on JSTOR. For more information about SAOA, visit the CRL website.

Written by Stephanie Ramírez, Library Communications Specialist and Staff Writer

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director, Library Communications