Global Studies Librarians: Collaboration Roundup


The Global Studies team has been busy over the last year, supporting research and teaching through acquisitions, partnerships, and global collaboration, all in the midst of remote work and a global pandemic. Although we work on different areas of the world, with different languages and scripts, our goal is the same: to provide top-tier access to critical resources and information for our patrons. At the same time, each of the librarians in the Global Studies unit have also been impacting librarianship in their respective areas far beyond Columbia University.

Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

There are multiple strands of collaborative activity in the Slavic, East European and Eurasian area, spearheaded by Rob Davis. Rob serves on the Collection Development Committee of the Association of Slavic, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies. He is also the inaugural 2CUL librarian, and has been serving both Columbia and Cornell constituents for over a decade. 2CUL was  initiated in 2010 to combine collecting activities between the two institutions, both of whom are members of BorrowDirect. In Rob’s area, acquisitions in Russian, Serbian, and Romanian are governed by single approval plans that significantly reduce or eliminate entirely duplication between the two institutions.

Rob is also working with our partners at ReCAP (NYPL, Princeton, and Harvard), our offsite storage facility for Slavic & Eastern European collaborations. Presently consisting of approval agreements and divided collection development responsibilities shared by Columbia, Princeton, NYPL and, since 2017, Harvard, the first attempts at coordinated collection development date back to 2010, between NYPL and Columbia, with Princeton joining in 2014. Today, all of the languages and cultures in our world region–from Adegey to Uzbek–are covered, thereby ensuring representation of materials from all of the regions in our portfolio.

The East Coast Slavic Consortium consists of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Library of Congress, NYPL, NYU, Princeton, Seton Hall, UNC, and Yale. Within the entire group, there are several collaborative agreements for the acquisition of extremist literature, and current textbooks.

Rob is also working with colleagues to collaborate on Russian e-books acquisitions. Although the previously-referenced agreements sought to minimize duplication of print, the arrival of COVID initially saw a shut-down of sharing materials. Higher-usage materials from the largest academic publishers became inaccessible. After large impromptu e-book purchases in the spring by both Columbia and Cornell, over the summer, Columbia/Cornell, NYPL, and Yale negotiated special pricing for electronic versions of 2020-21 imprints from high-volume publishers, and distributed cataloging expenses. Of the ReCAP partners, Princeton was designated as the repository for paper copies of these 500-plus titles, while the other institutions will provide e-access to their affiliates.

South and SouthEast Asian Studies

Gary Hausman has been involved in various projects in his area of expertise, including recent projects and collaborations for the  Content Curation Working Group of the South Asia Open Archives:

In recent news, L. Somi Roy of the IMASI Foundation participated in a monthly South Asian curation group meeting. Somi Roy  contributed various IMASI publications to Columbia Libraries over the course of the past few years. The IMASI Foundation is now organizing an archive of materials in multiple formats relating to  Maharaj Kumari Binodini Devi, an artist of Manipur active in multiple mediums including literature, cinema, theater, dance and sculpture. The Government of Manipur (India) has declared the 18 months starting February 2021 as the Binodini Centenary. Other ongoing projects of the South Asia Open Archives Group include expanding content in recently added modules of History of Science and Political History.

African studies

Columbia’s African Studies Librarian Yuusuf Caruso was recently elected as Vice Chair/Chair Elect of the Cooperative Africana Materials Project of The Center for Research Libraries, a six year commitment to leadership in cooperative collection development and preservation at the national level. CAMP acquires and preserves materials in microform and digital formats for its institutional members, including African newspapers, journals, government publications, personal and corporate archives, and the personal papers of scholars and government leaders.  On other fronts, Yuusuf is an active member of the Africana Librarians Council (ALC), especially its current Book Donation Committee and has just been appointed as the ALC representative to the African Studies Association’s Task Force on the Protection of Academic Freedom.  Yuusuf  is also a contributing selector for Sub-Saharan Africa on the Ivy Plus Libraries’ Confederation newly launched, web archiving project “Global Social Responses to COVID-19”, just published by the Internet Archive.  This activity is an extension of more than two-decades of curating a comprehensive guide to open access resources, the African Studies WWW-Virtual Library.

Middle East and Islamic Studies

Peter Magierski has been working on a number of projects in addition to his regular collection development work. As part of the Muslim World Manuscript project, Peter organized and trained a group of graduate students to help catalog Islamic manuscripts in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia. With the help of Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grant in 2018 the project was expanded to include digitization of some important manuscripts and full cataloging by a professional cataloger. To date 214 manuscripts have been digitized and are freely available through CLIO catalog.

Since 2019, Peter has been on the executive board of the Middle East Materials Project (MEMP). MEMP’s goal is to preserve collections in digital and microform format of unique, rare, hard to obtain, and often expensive research material for Middle East and Islamic Studies. Peter is also the co-founder and co-editor of the Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources (AMIR) project, which launched in 2010. AMIR is a blog which makes an attempt to collect and distribute information about open access material relating to the Middle East and Islamic Studies. The project has been tremendously influential – since the launch the project registered over 1.2 million hits. The project is used often by internationals researchers and has been very popular last year when libraries were closed due to pandemic.

Another important resource that Peter contributes to is Jara’id : Chronology of Arabic Periodicals. The project collects and publishes on the web chronology of Arabic periodicals between 1800 and 1929. So far it has listed more than 3300 periodical titles with bibliographical information published in this period. When available links to digitized periodicals are provided.

Jewish Studies

Michelle Chesner, the Librarian for Jewish Studies, was recently elected as the Vice President/President-Elect of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Michelle also coordinates a group of librarians collecting Judaica and Hebraica in the US Northeast, and works with Marli and Recap partners on various shared collecting initiatives.  One of the most impactful shared initiatives has been the Marli American Jewish Press Project, which has been working for almost a decade to make newspapers in all languages from the American Jewish Press freely available to users through the National Library of Israel’s Historical Jewish Press Project. Michelle also worked with a consortium of curators, researchers, and philanthropists to coordinate collecting of sources relating to COVID-19 and responses to it within the Jewish community.

Locally, Michelle has been working to add digitized manuscripts to Columbia’s online Hebrew Manuscripts site on the Internet Archive. She also writes a semi-regular blog featuring interesting aspects of and new acquisitions for the Judaica collections. Michelle also directs Footprints: Jewish Books Through Time and Place, a multi-institutional project tracing the movement of early modern Jewish books.

Latin American and Iberian Studies

Sócrates Silva, Columbia’s Latin American and Iberian Studies Librarian, is President (2020-2021) of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). He is organizing their 66th annual conference which is entitled From Hojas Volantes to Podcasts: News from Latin America and the Caribbean. The conference explores the connection between the journalistic record in the region and libraries.

Sócrates has organized and been a member of the grassroots webinar series “At Home in the World,” a conversation forum for Area Studies librarians  to discuss areas of common interests. He organized the session on open access which highlighted the work of the Open Access Pilot for Latin American Monographs a project he’s been working on with his colleagues to get off the ground for a few years.


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