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Rare Books and Special Collections At Northern Illinois University: Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Collection

A brief guide to Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University

Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Special Collection

The Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Collection

Image of Donn V. Hart

Donn V. Hart, 1918-1983

In 1963, an interdisciplinary Southeast Asia Program was established at Northern Illinois University that covered both mainland and insular Southeast Asia. In the following year, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies was founded to coordinate teaching, research and related activities. The nations of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore make up the region known as Island (or Insular) Southeast Asia and Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Thailand (Siam), and Vietnam make up mainland Southeast Asia.

The Southeast Asia Library Collection was organized at the same time to meet the increasing study and instructional needs of students and faculty. The Collection was first housed in Swen Parson Hall, and was subsequently moved to Founders Memorial Library in 1977. In 1985, the Collection was named the Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Collection in honor of Dr. Hart, an anthropologist specializing in Philippine studies and the former director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. The Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Collection, in collaboration with the Centers for Burma Studies and Southeast Asian Studies, maintains strong collections on Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The main purpose of the collection is to support Southeast Asia-related course offerings in the arts, humanities, social sciences and the Southeast Asian foreign language programs including Burmese, Indonesian, Tagalog, and Thai. The library's holdings from or concerning Southeast Asia have been developed over a period of more than three decades. Major book, journal, document, manuscript, sound recording, video and microform collections are available for general Southeast Asia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The collection is the only library resource of its kind in Illinois and is used not only by students and faculty at NIU, but also by students and faculty from other colleges and universities in Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. and the world.

National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging

Since 1968, the library has participated with the Library of Congress and some other U.S. university libraries in the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging (NPAC) for Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. This program has made it possible to acquire books, journals, documents or other materials from Southeast Asian areas where an inadequate book trade or other obstacles would otherwise prevent the development of sufficient library resources. The Collection has been designated by the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA) as the sole U.S. repository for certain official publications from the Indonesian island of Bali. Other NPAC participants receive certain unique materials from other regions of Indonesia.

Center for Burma Studies

In 1986, Northern Illinois University was selected by the Burma Studies Group of the Association for Asian Studies to be the national Center for Burma Studies. In the same year, the Burma Studies Foundation was created. Part of its mission is to support the Center for Burma Studies by gathering Burmese materials, which are suitable for inclusion in the Burma Collections at the Donn V. Hart Southeast Asia Collection. Since the establishment of the Center for Burma Studies in 1988, the Burma holdings at NIU have grown a great deal. With the support of Burma Project: Open Society Institute, New York and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and through a collection development grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the curator made an acquisition trip to Thailand and Burma in 1996. As a result of this trip, the University Libraries acquired nearly 1,100 titles as gifts from the Universities' Central Library, and purchased 850 titles, 29 videos, and one CD.

Holdings of the Collection

Today, the Collection has more than 75,000 volumes, primarily in the social sciences and humanities. Additionally, the collection contains 766 current periodical subscriptions, including 11 English and vernacular newspapers; over 3,000 microforms, including 7,000 Indonesian microfiches; and 13,300 pamphlets. The Collection holdings are unified in a section of the library specially reserved for materials on Southeast Asia, making them easily accessible. All of the monographs and most other materials in the collection have been fully cataloged, and online holdings records are accessible to readers world-wide through Illinet Online and OCLC World Catalog.

Compared to other SEA countries, very few materials in English are published on Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. Selections of all published titles for Burma and some materials for the rest of the above countries (in English and other European languages) have been funded since 1990 by a Luce Foundation grant which is administered by the Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies' ability to obtain outside funding has been instrumental in preserving the quality of the Collection. The Bennett Donation, Library of Congress gifts, and several other occasional gifts of important personal library collections of Burmese materials have allowed the Center for Southeast Asian Studies to divert approximately $100,000, which otherwise would have been spent on Burmese publications, to other areas of the Southeast Asia Collection.

Southeast Asia Special Collection

A number of rare items on Southeast Asia are housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of Founders Memorial Library. To name a few are the King Chulalongkorn edition ofTipitaka, Siam 250 years ago: A description of the Kingdom of Siam, written in 1636, by Joost Schouten; the first printed book on the Burmese alphabet titledAlphabetum Barmanum sev bomanum Regni Avae finitimarumque regionum. Romae: Typis Sacra Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 1776; palm leaf manuscript on Kyaw Aung San Tha Sayadaw'sAbhidhan Nissaya [1765] dictionary; some of the earliest travel books titledRelation du voyage en Moscovie, Tartarie, et Perse: avgmentee en cette novvelle edition de plus d'vn tiers, & articulierement d'vne seconde partie contenant le voyage de Jean Albert de Mandelslo avx Indes Orientales. Paris: Iean du Puis, 1666;Journal du voyage de Siam fait en 1685. & 1686. 2. éd. Paris: S. Mabre-Cramoisy, 1687; and last but not least,Aventures d'un gentilhomme breton aux iles Philippines: avec un aperçu sur la géologie et la nature du sol de ces iles, sur ses habitants, sur le régne minéral, la régne végétal et le régne animal; sur l'agriculture, l'industrie et le commerce de cet archipel / par P. de la Gironiére; illustrations d'aprés documents et croquis. Paris: Lacroix-Comon et chez l'auteur, 1855 (Paris: Didot fréres).

Map Collection

The Map Library in Davis Hall has a wealth of maps and atlases, including those representing ethno-linguistic groups; administrative and political divisions; land utilization, showing fertile lands, swamps, uncultivated land, forests and lagoons; as well as nautical, navigational, demographic, economic, and geological charts on Southeast Asia.

Microforms Collection

A comprehensive collection of primary sources and out of print books on microfiche housed in the Microforms Department of Founders Memorial Library. This Collection also includes master's theses and doctoral dissertations, gazetteers, periodicals, and several titles of newspapers on microfilm and micro-cards, as well as films, slides and videos on Southeast Asia.

Music Collection

The Music Library in the Music Building maintains Southeast Asian songs and music in the form of sound recordings, audio-tapes, and CDs.

Reference Services

Library holdings for both Island and Mainland Southeast Asia support NIU instructional programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. levels. The Southeast Asia Collection also supports the library needs of Southeast Asian students who are enrolled at NIU. The Southeast Asia Collection Office maintains regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Reference services are handled as they arise either in person or by telephone, interlibrary loan, or email. Additionally, reference service by appointment is available on weekends for visitors from other parts of the U.S. and the world.

The explosion of electronic technology has changed access to information for other areas of study dramatically. However, electronic technology in Southeast Asian countries (particularly Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, and Vietnam) is still not well advanced. Currently, very few resources are available in CD-ROM format. Therefore, to support instructional and research functions of the Centers, SEA collection staff compile holding lists of reference materials; dissertations, newspapers, and other out- of-print materials on microform; and bibliographies on different countries in Southeast Asia, such as Checklist of Southeast Asian Materials on Microform, Holding list of Reference Materials in Southeast Asia Collection, Bibliography of Books and Articles on Burma: 1988-1998, etc.

In recent years, the Internet has opened a whole new realm of information. It is also increasingly a repository for academic and research materials. However, the quality of Internet sites on Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam is very limited and the publishing industries in those countries are not well developed. On the other hand, quite a number of sources are available on the Internet posted by businesses and individuals outside those countries.

Southeast Asia Collection librarians now monitor the Internet for newly emerging information sources. The liaison program was founded with the express intent that librarians would work with specific departments. The aim is to further effective selection and collection-building decisions as well as to offer a personal contact for specialized reference services and instruction in library resources and research skills.

The SEA librarians also work closely with Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA), Southeast Asia Microform (SEAM), and with various consortia from American and Southeast Asian universities for pooling resources. The library's commitment to the acquisitions program is considerable. It also supports travel for the SEA librarians to collect materials in Southeast Asia and for participating in the relevant committees at the Association for Asian Studies's annual meetings. The Southeast Asia Collection staff is dedicated to doing everything within its power to maintain the highest quality collection and services for the users.

The Donn V. Hart Endowment Fund

The Endowment was established in 1983 to strengthen the existing Collection. The annual income from this fund is made available for the purchase of materials for the Collection. Contributions to the Donn V. Hart Endowment Fund are welcome. Please feel free to contact the Southeast Asia Collection Office at (815) 753-1809

Web site designed by May Kyi Win, who passed away on February 23, 2002.

Subject Guide

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Sarah Cain