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Southeast Asian studies collection development policy

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Program information

Concentrated academic and programmatic interest in Southeast Asia began in 2008 with the appointment of a faculty member with a specialization in both Buddhism and Southeast Asian Studies. Collection is focused on Southeast Asian Buddhism, religious art, ritual studies, history, anthropology, archaeology, and material culture. Languages of interest are Pali, Thai and Lao.

Collection description

The Penn Library's Southeast-related collection development program is forward- looking through necessity. There has been sufficient interest in Southeast Asia at the classroom level that the Library has been consistent in acquiring contemporary scholarship on the region in a wide range of disciplines through our approval plans.

The retrospective collection is relatively strong for Southeast Asia in the areas of religion, history, political science, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and art history.

Major primary research collections, on microform or in print, concerning Southeast Asia include the complete Human Relations Area Files and campuswide online access to eHRAF, 19th- and 20th-century British parliamentary papers, state papers, confidential papers, and Public Record Office files.

Electronic media materials are a recent addition to the collection. Music sound recordings, held in the Ormandy Listening Center, are very selectively acquired. Documentaries, usually by request, are acquired and likewise are important films to support the Cinema and Media Studies program.

New areas for development will be public health, international and non- governmental organization publications, and materials relating to the social, political, and economic conditions of the region.

Bibliographic access to the collection is provided through Franklin, the Penn Library's online catalog.

Journal literature bibliography for Southeast Asian studies is well served, especially by the Bibliography of Asian Studies.

The interdisciplinary nature of Penn's Southeast studies program may require readers to use a large number of subject-specific online bibliographic and fulltext databases. Among the licensed databases offered are Anthropological Literature, CAB Abstracts, DataStream, FRANCIS, Historical Abstracts, Index to World Legal Periodicals, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, ISI Web of Science, LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe, LLBA, Medline, MLA International Bibliography, PAIS, ProQuest Dissertations Online, and World News Connection and the important Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).

Guidelines for Collection Development

1. Chronological

The collection reflects the orientation of Southeast Asian studies at Penn, which treats all historical periods, from prehistory to the present.

2. Formats

The collection constitutes largely books and academic periodicals. Southeast Asian newspapers are not currently collected and the academic program lacks sufficient geographic hyperfocus to justify specific subscriptions. Microforms are collected. Electronic formats are collected where relevant: sound recordings, videorecordings, numeric and geographic information, and electronic journals.

3. Geographical

Within the limitations to the subject coverage of geographic areas within Southeast Asia, most emphasis is placed upon Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos with some interest in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Java. Much of the current scholarly material collected is published in the United States and western Europe.

4. Language

The current scholarly literature collected is primarily in English and French, with some German and few Italian publications. Materials in the core languages, Thai, Cambodian and Lao are very selectively acquired. An attempt is made to obtain readers and primers for uncommonly taught languages, where scholarly material is scarce.

5. Publication dates

Budgetary constraints result in a collecting emphasis on current publications. However, owing to the poverty of the collection's imprints before the 1990s, reprints or used copies of major older works are selectively obtained. Electronic, microform, and print backfiles of serials are selectively acquired to supplement current holdings.

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

Approval plans provide good coverage of U.S. and western European academic and trade publishers and distributors.

Anglophone titles from Southeast Asia are obtained primarily through a few selective book vendors from the region.

  • Subjects collected and levels of collecting

    Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting Notes
    Note: E=English F=Foreign
    Anthropology Research E/F at Museum, ethnohistory at Van Pelt
    Archaeology Research E/F
    Art Instructional E/F at Fine Arts
    Economics/Development Basic E
    Folklore Instructional E
    Thailand Instructional E/F
    Burma Instructional E/F
    Cambodia Instructional E/F
    Laos Instructional E/F
    Linguistics Instructional E/F
    Political Science Instructional E
    Religion Research E/F

Subjects excluded

No subjects are excluded.

General-audience primers, "teach yourself" language manuals, and juvenilia are not collected unless either required by the scarcity of more scholarly materials for the subject or recommended for its treatment of the subject.

Cooperative arrangements

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology holds one of the largest historically significant collections of art and material culture in the U.S. from Oceania and this includes insular Southeast Asia.

The Penn Museum has extensive Southeast-related holdings, in conjunction with its active interest in the prehistory of Southeast Asia. (see, e.g., www.penn.museum/press-releases/16-mmap.html)