Digitization departments inside college library techniques should make troublesome selections about which collections to prioritize for on-line entry, a selection sophisticated by the truth that such digitization applications should assist analysis in areas as numerous as engineering, comparative literature, and political science. The competitors for restricted monetary sources and employees time signifies that it may be uncommon for a single self-discipline or assortment to see its supplies digitized persistently over the long run. This end result is smart when viewing the objectives of an educational library from afar—to protect and disseminate information of all types. However it could stay difficult for topic librarians who characterize smaller applications to successfully advocate for strong digitization of their archival supplies. This problem is much more essential to deal with when the supplies in query originate from voices traditionally underrepresented within the archives, reminiscent of Southeast Asian communities. When deciding on supplies for digitization, how can a single establishment guarantee fairness amongst topic areas whereas nonetheless serving a patron base as wide-ranging as that of an educational library? The Southeast Asia Digital Library (SEADL) presents a singular method to answering this query.


By adopting a cooperative mannequin of digital library administration, SEADL has created an setting wherein supplies from Southeast Asia are at all times first in line for digitization. SEADL is an OA repository hosted on-line by Northern Illinois College, however it’s contributed to and overseen by the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA), a consortium of 15 further establishments, together with the College of California–Berkeley, Yale and Cornell universities, and the Library of Congress. CORMOSEA has been addressing points in Southeast Asia librarianship since 1969.

Member establishments pool collectively monetary sources, archival supplies, topic and language information, {and professional} community connections to assist a digital library past what any of their applications might construct on their very own. The almost 10,000 gadgets in SEADL’s repository comprise palm-leaf manuscripts, early printed monographs, oral histories, tv reveals, historic pictures, political posters, and extra. Supplies originate from 11 nations in Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


The advantages of SEADL’s distinctive mannequin of cooperative administration attain past these afforded to its member establishments. The sphere of Southeast Asia Research could also be comparatively small when in comparison with different tutorial disciplines, however there are innumerable totally different archives, libraries, and museums the place main supply supplies related to this space are held. Whereas researchers are sometimes acquainted with the holdings of their very own establishment, it may be tougher for these unfamiliar with the lay of the library land to interrupt down the silos that maintain bodily disparate archival collections disconnected from one another. SEADL proposes an answer to this drawback by aggregating gadgets from these collections in a single digital area. With out aggregation, researchers should start their search course of by first finding a number of establishments with probably helpful holdings. They need to then navigate via these varied digital portals, every with its personal organizational scheme and outline conventions. SEADL spares customers a number of steps of that course of, as an alternative permitting them to enter search phrases in a single platform to seek out the sources they want.

Of the 26 distinct digitization initiatives that SEADL at the moment hosts, one in all its most persistently well-liked collections is The Diaries and Journey Writings of King Chulalongkorn of Siam. Digitized and contributed by Ohio College Libraries, the 24 volumes on this assortment doc King Chulalongkorn’s travels throughout Southeast Asia and Western Europe from 1876 to 1887. King Chulalongkorn is an important participant in Thailand’s historical past, as he oversaw the dominion’s shift into a contemporary nation state. These writings are credited by Jeffrey Shane, the gathering’s curator at Ohio College, as “one of many single-most essential collections of main sources on the interval.”

Past internet hosting surrogates of digitized and born-digital archival supplies, SEADL additionally exists as a clearinghouse for secondary sources on Southeast Asia. For every nation within the area, the SEADL web site holds dozens of hyperlinks to helpful web sites reminiscent of these for governmental departments, native newspapers, regional tutorial journals, and even journey guides. Compiling and organizing these sources has been a labor of over a decade, and these useful resource lists are persistently probably the most visited pages on SEADL.


With latest assist from the Henry Luce Basis within the type of a $1.2 million grant, SEADL has been in a position to develop and evolve previously few years. Hiring two full-time employees members, digitizing 5 new collections, and redesigning the public-facing web site with a scheduled launch of fall 2022 has infused the mission with new life. And the SEADL workforce is already planning for a extra sustainable future as soon as that beneficiant grant funding is inevitably spent. New mission bylaws and a proposed cooperative funding mannequin have set the stage for SEADL to proceed its work untethered from the precarity that comes from counting on grant funding for development.

An image from one of King Chulalongkorn’s diariesA picture from one in all King Chulalongkorn’s diaries: The pictured males are recognized by the handwritten caption as Wisutsuriasak (left), guardian to the royal college students, and his half-brother Jongwa (proper), the chancellor of the Palace Ministry.


Occupied with becoming a member of CORMOSEA? Have a bodily assortment that you just suppose can be excellent for SEADL? Need to schedule a workshop about digital Southeast Asia supplies to your patrons? Please attain out to our workforce by contacting SEADL mission supervisor Emily Zinger at emz42@cornell.edu.

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