Collection overview

The Centre’s library holds 45,000-55,000 academic publications to support the study and teaching of South and Southeast Asia, at undergraduate and graduate level, in the humanities and social sciences.

Material is collected primarily in the areas of history, economics, politics, sociology, geography and anthropology, but also secondarily in the areas of religion, archaeology, architecture, art history, literature, film and popular culture, education and health.

Geographical coverage includes the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The collection has particular strengths in history and politics (especially 19th & 20th century), and has an internationally important collection of 19th and 20th century Indian newspapers on microfilm.

The majority of publications are in the English language, but the newspaper collection includes titles in Hindi, Urdu, Telegu, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalam and Tamil. There are also a small number of monographs written in the languages of the regions concerned. Many titles are not available elsewhere in Cambridge.

The collection is particularly strong in its holdings of academic titles published in South or Southeast Asia, though also holds thousands of titles published by academic publishers in Europe, the United States and Australia.

The Library houses a significant collection of official publications, including copies on microform of India Office Records and records from the US State Department and the CIA. More details of these holdings are available here.

Periodicals relating to South and Southeast Asia are taken by a number of libraries across the University and a few titles are still received in print format in the Centre’s library, but most are received electronically.  About 300 titles have been collected historically. They are all catalogued on iDiscover, with links to online copies where available.

To view a full listing of the collection of historic South Asian newspapers held on microfilm, click on the South Asian Newspapers link.

A microform scanner is available in the Library and data may be saved from microfilms and microfiche to a memory stick.

The Library has access to an increasing list of online journals, newspapers and electronic databases. Follow the Electronic resources link here.

Over 800 historical maps are held, many stored in the map chest in the library, but others forming parts of archival collections, which should be requested from staff.

The Library holds only a small collection of dissertations and theses, including those written by students on the MPhil Modern South Asian Studies course, and these may be located via the Library catalogue. University of Cambridge PhD theses on South or Southeast Asian topics are held in Cambridge University Library.

The Centre’s Library collections are greatly enriched by archival collections of films, photographs, private papers (including diaries, correspondence and unpublished memoirs)and oral history. More information about these is available on the Centre’s Archive pages.

Researchers are most welcome to consult any items held in the Library or Archive whenever it is open. However, only MPhil Modern South Asian Studies’ students and registered PhD students may borrow books. The Centre’s library is primarily a reference library.

Library staff are always pleased to help visitors with research enquiries, but cannot undertake extensive research on individual enquiries.