Southeast Asia Collection Development Policy

I. Academic Programs Served

A. Principle users of the Southeast Asian Collection include the departments of Anthropology, Art, English (TESOL), Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, Marketing, Music, Political Science, Sociology, and Education.

B. Two of these departments, History, and Political Science, offer Ph.D. degrees with concentrations in Southeast Asian Studies. The Ph.D. program in Political Science is especially active and has strong country specializations in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The Ph.D. program in History is focused on Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Political Science and History also offer masters degrees with concentrations in Southeast Asian Studies and bachelor degrees with minors in Southeast Asian Studies.

Anthropology, Art (Art History), English (TESOL), Marketing, Music (Ethnomusicology), Sociology, and Education offer masters degree programs with concentrations in Southeast Asian Studies. Of these, Anthropology is quite active with strong country interests in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Cambodia, and Thailand. Anthropology also has a strong interest in Southeast Asians residing in the United States (including the recently arrived Indochinese communities as well as the long established Filipino communities). The Art History masters program has a broad regional interest with the emphasis on Burma. English TESOL is a relatively new program which will be concerned with Malay/Indonesian, Thai, Lao and other languages and cultures of the Indochinese area of Southeast Asia as well as with the subject of Southeast Asians residing in the United States. Ethnomusicology is the primary focus of the program in Music, with special interests in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The masters programs with concentrations in Southeast Asia offered by Marketing and Sociology are broadly regional with some focus in Thailand. All of the departments that offer masters degree programs with concentrations in Southeast Asian Studies also offer bachelor degrees which may include a minor in Southeast Asian Studies. Such a minor is open to any undergraduate at NIU.

Foreign Languages and Literatures does not offer graduate degrees, but it provides vital support to the graduate degree programs that have the concentration in Southeast Asian studies and the undergraduate programs with the minor in Southeast studies, both of which require students to learn a Southeast Asian language. Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, and Tagalog are offered at all levels (beginning, intermediate, advanced, and literature) on a regular basis. Khmer is recently added as part of the Southeast Asian language program. Javanese and Lao are offered on demand. The Thai-Lao component of the program in Foreign Languages and Literatures has a strong interest in Southeast Asians residing in the United States.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Department of Economics have had a joint interest in hiring an economist with a specialization in Southeast Asian Studies. This would add another Ph.D. program to be served by the collection. Furthermore, the Center has recently expanded its interest to cover Islamic studies in the region. With this emphasis, Arabic language class and a course related to Islamic studies in Southeast Asia are offered.

From the above, it should be clear that the dimension of country specialization is of great importance. Overall, the most important country represented in the collection, in terms of use by NIU scholars and academic programs, is Thailand. Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Southeast Asians in the United States, and whole region materials are very important, too. Materials on Laos and Cambodia are important to the extent that they relate to Thai studies and to Southeast Asians residing in the United States. Materials on Burma and Vietnam are increasingly used. Some Vietnam materials are important to the subject of Southeast Asians in the United States. These generalizations vary somewhat according to which academic program one considers, as recounted above.

II. Clientele Served

A-B. Most of the persons who use materials in the collection are students and faculty of NIU. However, other university libraries and private and government agencies borrow materials from the collection on a fairly regular basis. The Center for Southeast Asian Studies has been very active with their outreach programs. The programs serve both teachers and students in middle and high schools, and even private colleges in the northern part of Illinois and the southern part of Wisconsin. Beyond the use of the collection for scholarly research and courses, certain parts of the collection also serve as sources of general information and entertainment reading for members of the NIU community (which includes several hundred Southeast Asians) and for the general public.

III. General Collection Policy Consideration

A-E. Policy regarding languages collected, chronological emphasis, and publication dates vary somewhat depending on country and discipline. In general, however, it may be stated that collection languages should include the major colonial languages (English, French, Dutch) and the major regional and national languages (Indonesian/Malay, Thai/Lao, Burmese) of the countries most strongly represented in the collection. Also, the general chronological emphasis is on the modern period, from the beginnings of the colonial period to the present. Selected material on earlier periods is occasionally important to History, Anthropology, and Art. Materials published before 1800 are generally excluded and with respect to a number of countries, the cut-off should be set at 1900. The following table deals with the specifics of each country emphasis regarding languages and publication dates.

The focal geographical area of the collection is as follows:

  • Southeast Asia (General)
  • Burma
  • Indochina (also known as French Indochina)
  • Vietnam, Annam
  • Cochin China, Tongking (also known as Tonkin)
  • Cambodia (also known Kampuchea)
  • Laos
  • Indonesia (also known Dutch East Indies, Netherlands East Indies, Malay Archipelago)

Generally, the emphasis of the collection is on monographs, serial publications, selected materials in microfilm and newspapers. Manuscripts and pamphlets are NOT excluded. There are common instances of variations of format within single publication series from monographic or journal format to what appears to be pamphlet format. Also, unpublished theses are an important concern in developing the research function of the collection. Given these considerations, it is difficult to address the matter of formats excluded, at least at this time.

IV. Collecting Levels

V. Other Resources

A-B. Other resources at NIU include a strong collection of Indonesian and Thai materials housed in the Microforms Department, a good collection of maps of Southeast Asia in the Map Collection, a valuable collection of palm-leaf manuscripts, older Southeast Asian maps and monographs housed in Rare Books and Special Collections. Nearby off-campus resources include an extensive collection of retrospective materials on the Philippines at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and a general but uneven retrospective collection on Southeast Asia at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana.

VI. Special Remarks/Observations

This collection policy statement is viewed as merely an initial effort. We expect to make revisions next year, after we have completed a thorough evaluation of the collection.

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Dean Fred Barnhart

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