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last updated: 4/19/2012

Collection Development Policies - Central Eurasian

Central Eurasian Studies

  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of the policy statement
      This document will provide information about the scope of the Central Eurasian Studies collection. It will serve as a basis for planning future development and maintenance of the collection, as a tool for use by IU Libraries staff and administration, and as a basis for cooperative agreements and sharing of information with other libraries.

    2. Audience
      The intended audience is comprised of Libraries staff and administrators, faculty and students at Indiana University, and colleagues at other research libraries with comparable collections.

      The history of the study of Inner Asia in the West begins in Central Europe. Starting in the early nineteenth century, Hungarian explorers and scholars ventured into Inner Asia in search of clues to their own national origins. The first, Alexander Csoma de Kõrös, began his travels in 1820 and eventually became the founder of Tibetology. The term "Inner Asian studies" (Hungarian belsõázsiai kutatások; German innerasiatische Studien) first appeared in the masthead of the journal Turán (Bulletin of the Hungarian Center for Oriental Culture, published 1913-1944), brainchild of the Hungarian Count Béla Széchenyi, who had led a scientific expedition to the region in 1877-80. In the first three decades of the 20th century, discoveries of Inner Asian antiquities by the Hungarian-born British explorer Marc Aurel Stein made signal contributions to knowledge of Inner Asian civilizations, culminating in Stein's multi-volume report on “Innermost Asia” (1928).

      In 1940, Louis Ligeti founded and became the first occupant of the Inner Asian Chair at the University of Budapest, the first chair of its kind. Thomas Sebeok, as Chairman of the Research Center for Anthropology, Folklore and Linguistics at Indiana University, hired Denis Sinor in 1961 to develop the Program in Uralic and Altaic Studies. Bringing Ligeti's teachings to Indiana, Sinor made use of the surge of interest in area studies at American universities to promote awareness and appreciation of Inner Asia as a distinct world area defined by more than its location "beyond" well-known civilizations such as China and Russia. Sinor nurtured a number of lasting programs and institutions that helped to formalize Inner Asian studies in America, including three at Indiana University: the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (now the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies), the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (now Central Eurasian Studies), and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center.

      Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) 1943-
      Central Eurasia, the home of some of the world's greatest art, epic literature, and empires, is the vast heartland of Europe and Asia extending from Central Europe to East Asia and from Siberia to the Himalayas. The Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University took its present name in 1993. It was founded in 1943 by Thomas Sebeok as an Army Specialized Training Program for Central Eurasian languages, then formally organized as the Program in Uralic and Altaic Studies (from 1956 to 1965) and later the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (from 1965 to 1993). The Department has long been one of the world's leading centers of academic expertise on Central Eurasia as well as the sole independent degree-granting academic unit staffed with its own faculty of specialists.

    3. Description of institution/department and clientele
      The Eurasian heartland, which has played a seminal role in the development of both Europe and Asia, is still insufficiently explored by modern scholars. The Department of Central Eurasian Studies offers a unique area studies program, emphasizing language proficiency and a thorough grounding in indigenous cultures. Our program provides students with the means to study in depth a region of specialization in the Central Eurasian area through mastery of one or more languages as well as the history and culture of a given region by means of a multidisciplinary approach. The degree program combines two key features: (1) a Language of Specialization (LOS), which gives students access to the chosen culture through the voices of its people; and (2) a Region of Specialization (ROS), which includes courses on various aspects of the chosen culture. In addition, while becoming familiar with various disciplinary approaches to the study of Central Eurasia, students are strongly encouraged to provide depth to their studies by thoroughly assimilating the methodology of a single discipline.

      Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) 1962-
      In 1962, IU became home to the Uralic and Altaic Language and Area Center, which in 1981 was renamed the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) For the last 40 years, IU has gathered leading specialists, impressive library collections, and other top-quality resources to create the nation's premier program in Central Eurasian Studies. It has effectively utilized these resources to provide quality training and outreach programs that continue to serve the entire country.

      Inner Asia, or the interior of the Eurasian landmass, comprises in historical terms the civilizations of Central Asia, Mongolia, and Tibet, together with neighboring areas and peoples that in certain periods formed cultural, political, or ethnolinguistic unities with these regions. In the past the Inner Asian world was dominated by pastoral nomadic communities of the great Eurasian steppe, and its history was shaped by the interaction of these societies with neighboring sedentary civilizations. In the 20th century, the Inner Asian peoples were located within the borders or sphere of influence of either the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China. The breakup of the USSR brought statehood and social transformation to much of the region.

      Today, Central Eurasia includes Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, the republics of Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan), Mongolia, the Inner Asian areas of China (Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia), and adjacent parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China, and Siberia in the Russian Federation. Areas pertinent to the study of Inner Asia for ethnolinguistic and historical reasons include the Tatar, Bashkir, and Kalmyk Republics in Russia and the Manchu homeland in northeast China.

      IU's greatest concentration of expertise and instruction is located within the Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS), and other Center faculty are specialists on civilizations stretching from the Baltics, Hungary, and Turkey to Central Asia, Tibet, and Mongolia. They pursue both historical and contemporary analysis in a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, business, comparative literature, economics, folklore, history, journalism, linguistics, music and drama, political science, public administration, and religious studies. Thanks in part to IAUNRC funds, every academic year the Department of Central Eurasian Studies offers three levels of instruction in all of the following living languages indigenous to the Center’s area: Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Mongolian, Persian/Tajik, Tibetan, Turkish, and Uzbek. Other living and classical languages of Central Eurasia are offered less frequently, including Chagatay, Evenki, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mordvin, Turkmen, and Uyghur.

      The Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center offers a strong interdisciplinary training program for students interested in the languages and societies of Central Eurasia. Undergraduates can earn a certificate or an individualized major in Central Eurasian Studies. The Center also trains future specialists through its M.A. and Ph.D. degree programs, which have placed graduates in prestigious positions in education, business and industry, and government—both in the US and abroad.

      Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) 1967-
      Established in 1967 as the Asian Studies Research Institute (ASRI), its name was changed to the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (RIFIAS) in 1979, and then renamed the Denis Sinor Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) in 2007 It is an independent, non-profit institution accountable to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the Bloomington campus of Indiana University. The SRIFIAS has had five directors, all members of the faculty of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University: Denis Sinor (1967-1981), Stephen Halkovic (1982-1985), Yuri Bregel (1986-1997), Devin DeWeese (1997-2007), and Edward Lazzerini (since 2007). The mission of the SRIFIAS is to encourage and support scholarly research in all aspects of Inner Asian Studies. One of the central tasks of the SRIFIAS is to maintain and develop scholarly and technical resources necessary for research in Inner Asian studies.

      Institute of Hungarian Studies (IHS) 1991-2003
      The Institute of Hungarian Studies established in 1991 to disseminate knowledge about Hungarian society and civilization; to support organizations and projects related to Hungarian Studies at Indiana University; and to house the Institute's impressive library of several thousand volumes of Hungarica. During the 2002/2003 academic year, the Institute was closed as a separate operation, while continuing to be administered by CEUS, which offers graduate degrees in Hungarian Studies. The significant collection of materials from the Institute’s Library and Archives was integrated into the IU Wells Library collections.

      Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR) 2002-
      Indiana University's Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR) is one of fifteen current Language Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI grants Additional support comes from the College of Arts and Sciences. The goal of CeLCAR is to enhance U.S. national capacity for teaching and learning the languages and cultures of Central Asia and surrounding regions.

    4. Brief overview of the collection
      Collections that support Central Eurasian Studies at IU are found in the Indiana University Wells Library, the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, and the Antoinette K. Gordon Collection of Tibetan Art. Taken together, these holdings constitute one of the major research collections for Central Eurasian area studies in the United States.
      1. History of the collection
        The collection has grown along with the university and the Central Eurasian Studies program and covers, for the most part, research level materials with an emphasis on scholarly publications in culture, history and linguistics and on materials in the vernacular languages.

      2. Collection strengths and weaknesses
        In general, the Central Eurasian Studies collection at IU is one of the strongest in the world. Its weaknesses generally reflect areas of low interest and emphasis in the relevant academic programs, as well as the serious difficulties involved in acquiring materials from the regions covered in any truly systematic manner.

        A number of the constituent collections in the Wells Library's Central Eurasian holdings are unique resources, among the largest of their kind within the United States. At 7,000 volumes, the Tibetan language collection is among the largest, and the only fully catalogued and accessible collection, of its kind in the country. Similarly, the library's Estonian collection, totaling 4,000 volumes, is the largest university collection in the country. The Wells Library's Mongolian, Hungarian, and Central Asian holdings are each among the largest such collections in the United States.

      3. Subject areas emphasized or deemphasized
        The collection reflects the interdisciplinary nature of area studies and the anthropological-linguistic origins of the programs. The greatest emphasis is on language and literature, history and folklore, with secondary emphasis on the humanities and the social sciences. There is very little emphasis on the natural or applied sciences, although there is a growing interest in global ecological and health issues.

      4. Collection locations
        Indiana University houses outstanding Central Eurasian library resources in both the Wells Library and the Lilly Library.
        1. Wells Library
          The Wells Library estimates that the current number of holdings relevant to the region is approximately 115,000 volumes, more than half of which are in vernacular languages of Central Eurasia.

        2. Lilly Library
          Many rare books and manuscripts relevant to Central Eurasian Studies are located in the Lilly Library.
  2. Scope of Coverage
    1. Languages collected and excluded
      Materials in a wide variety of languages are collected in greater or lesser depth depending upon the comparative strengths of the programs and interests of the faculty. In general materials in English are covered by the anthropology, economics, folklore, history, political science, sociology and religious studies collections.

      Materials are collected for all those languages supported by IU programs, with an emphasis on the major languages within each language family:
      • Altaic languages, which include Mongolian and a number of Turkic languages, foremost of which are: Azerbaijani, Kazakh, modern and Ottoman Turkish, Uighur, and Uzbek/Chagatay.
      • Iranian languages, focusing on Kurdish, Pashto, and Tajik, in cooperation with the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Collection, which focuses on Persian.
      • Uralic languages, foremost of which are: Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian.
      • Western European languages, focusing on English language scholarly materials on Central Eurasian Studies topics.
      • Materials in Central Eurasian languages that are explicitly covered by other area studies libraries, particularly Slavic Languages and East Asian languages.
      • Materials in Central Eurasian languages that are not consistently taught or supported at IU, such as Armenian and Urdu.
      • Sino-Tibetan languages, which were formerly covered by Central Eurasian Studies, is now covered by the Librarians for India/Tibetan Studies and East Asian Studies.
    2. Geographical areas covered and excluded
      A wide variety of geographical regions are covered in greater of lesser depth depending upon the comparative strengths of the programs and interests of the faculty.

      • Azerbaijan
      • Buriatia
      • Estonia
      • Finland
      • Hungary
      • Mongolia
      • Kazakhstan
      • Kyrgyzstan
      • Tajikistan
      • Turkmenistan
      • Turkey
      • Uzbekistan
      • Uighurs of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China
      Latvia and Lithuania are covered at a basic level by the collection manager for Slavic Studies, while coverage of Estonia is shared between the collection managers for Central Eurasian Studies and Slavic Studies (language and literature are covered by former and all other subjects by the latter; this division of collecting responsibilities for Estonia is in line with the current curriculum of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies).

      • Afghanistan: covered for English language materials by the anthropology, economics, folklore, history, political science, sociology and religious studies collections.
      • Pakistan: covered for English language materials by the anthropology, economics, folklore, history, political science, sociology and religious studies collections.
      • Chronological periods covered and excluded
        The collection covers all historical periods from the most ancient times to the present. In general, the intent is to provide materials that cover the entire history of each of the various cultures covered from their early beginnings until contemporary times.

      • Dates of publication of materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage
        The emphasis is on acquiring current publications at a research level, with intermittent acquisition of primary sources and classic editions to fill gaps in our collection when such materials and the funds to purchase them become available.

      • Formats collected and excluded
        The primary formats collected are print monographs and serials, plus online electronic databases, journals, and reference sources. Non-internet accessible electronic formats, such as single workstation CD-ROMS, are acquired only when unique and extremely important. Microforms and reprints are acquired primarily to fill retrospective gaps or when they are the only format available. Other media, such as videos, are acquired very occasionally on CEUS funds, but most often on the Media fund.
  3. Collecting responsibility
    The Librarian for Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Central Eurasian Studies is primarily responsible for the collection of the materials in the vernacular languages of the areas covered. The librarian collaborates closely with all members of the Subject and Area Librarians Council (SALC), but especially with the Librarian for Slavic Studies and also with the Collection Manager for India Studies.

  4. Related collections
    All of the following related collections are located in Goodbody Hall on the Bloomington Campus.
    1. Department of Central Eurasian Studies
      CEUS maintains holdings in the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies and the Antoinette K. Gordon Collection of Tibetan Art.

    2. Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center
      IAUNRC possesses a collection of books, videos, and CDs that are available for loan for periods of up to two weeks (not including shipping times). The list of books is available online

    3. The Mongolia Society
      The Mongolia Society received a collection donated by the late John G. Hangin, a professor of Uralic and Altaic at Indiana University. The Hangin collection consists of approximately 5,500 books, of which approximately 60% are in Mongolian. This collection has been distributed between the IU Libraries and the SRIFIAS Library.

    4. Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies
      The SRIFIAS Library consists of a general collection and the Central Asian Archives, and is one of North America's premier resources for teaching and research in the history, languages, literatures, geography, religions, and cultures of Inner Asia. The SRIFIAS Library on-line catalog is hosted by IU’s Digital Library Program http://www.dlib.indiana.eduand is available at

      The general collection of the SRIFIAS Library comprises approximately 8,000 volumes, including several current journal subscriptions and other items (tapes, maps, slides). The Library includes works in all major European languages as well as in Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, Persian, Arabic, Tajik, Turkish, Azeri, Uzbek/Chagatay, Kazakh, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Uyghur, and other languages of historical and contemporary Inner Asian peoples. While many rare and otherwise inaccessible publications are available in the SRIFIAS Library, the collection's primary value lies in its assembling together in a single convenient location basic reference works, language textbooks, grammars, dictionaries, and important monographs relevant to Inner Asian studies.

      Taken as a whole, the SRIFIAS Library is a unique collection of research material relevant to the full range of Inner Asian studies. It is unparalleled in the United States and is recognized as a critical resource for the Inner Asian field by scholars throughout the world. The SRIFIAS is a non-lending library. SRIFIAS Library staff welcomes general and specialized reference queries, but cannot accept requests for duplication, scanning, mailing, etc., of materials or requests to conduct research.
    5. Principal Sources of Supply and Major Selection Tools
      Most English language materials are acquired from Blackwell’s Book Services via their approval plans. Similarly, most Western European language materials are acquired from Harrassowitz via their area studies approval plan.

      For the wide variety of vernacular language materials collected, a number of commercial vendors have been utilized for firm orders and periodical subscriptions, including: Kubon & Sagner (Munchen, Germany); Stockmann/Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (Helsinki, Finland); Almqvist & Wiksell Int'l (Stockholm, Sweden); Mongol Knjigotorg (Ulan-Bator, Mongolia); and Elif Kitabevi (Istanbul, Turkey).
      Blanket order/approval plans cover the following materials:
      • Batthyany Kultur-Press, Ltd. (Budapest, Hungary) for acquiring materials from Hungary.
      • East View Information Services (Minneapolis MN) for acquiring materials from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
      • Rifat Bali (Istanbul, Turkey) for acquiring materials from Turkey.
      • MIPP International (Minsk, Belarus and Brooklyn, New York) for acquiring materials from Estonia, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
      • The Mongolia Society (Bloomington, Indiana) for acquiring materials from Mongolia.
      A number of informal contacts exist in which IU faculty and students traveling overseas purchase materials for the library as they become available. Numerous exchange relationships have been established in the past and proposed for the future but many of these have lapsed because of conditions in the areas covered created by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The strongest continuing exchanges continue to be with institutions in Estonia and Finland.

    6. Preservation
      1. Criteria for selection for preservation and/or mass deacidification
        The following criteria for selecting materials for preservation and/or mass deacidification apply: the condition of an item’s binding and paper; the availability of replacement copies; and the level of likely use. Materials published on acidic paper from approximately 1850 to 1980 are especially vulnerable and should be considered for mass deacidification.

      2. High-priority areas of the collection for preservation review and treatment
        The Central Eurasian Studies collection at IUL-B contains many materials published in the vernacular, national languages of the regions covered. Most of these items are not widely held and they include many unique or rare titles that would be difficult to replace. In addition, they often have been published with acidic paper and poor, cardboard bindings. A survey needs to be done to identify these materials and the treatment they need.
    7. Selection criteria for ALF
      1. Monographs that are fully cataloged in IUCAT will be sent to ALF if they:
        • were published before 1821;
        • were published before 1995 and have circulated three or fewer times (all copies combined);
        • are duplicate copies of monographs published before 1995 (even those with high circulation rates); one copy in the best condition will stay in Wells.
      2. Periodicals before 1990 that are fully indexed in one or more online abstracting, indexing or full-text databases to which IUL subscribes will be sent to ALF -- primary examples include:
        • Academic Search (EBSCO)
        • ATLA Religion Database
        • Historical Abstracts
        • Index Islamicus
        • JSTOR
        • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts: LLBA
        • MLA International Bibliography
        • Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian Studies
        • Periodical Contents Index
      3. Monographic series and sets will be kept together.
      4. Materials of a reference nature, such as biographic and literary dictionaries that can be used effectively only by browsing, will be retained in Wells.
    8. Digital projects
      1. Criteria for selection for digitization
        • Materials that need to be preserved and for which digitization would be the best option.
        • Materials that are unique or rare to Indiana University and that should be more readily available to researchers around the world.
        • Materials, such as major runs of journals or newspapers and major indexes or abstracts, that would expand access to a broad range of other materials.
        • Materials that are locally incomplete, but that could be combined with related materials at other research libraries to create a significant collaborative collection.
        • Materials that do not present significant copyright problems.
      2. Priorities for collections to be digitized
        • Materials in immediate need of preservation.
        • Large runs of materials whose digitization would free up stack space.
        • Materials which are currently least accessible and most needed in the subject field by researchers around the world.
      • Other resources and libraries
        There are approximately 25 research libraries (including the Library of Congress) in the United States that collect Central Eurasian materials. Twelve of these libraries are part of universities with programs in Central Eurasian Studies that have been designated by the U.S. Office of Education as Title VI National Resource Centers. Indiana University has two such centers, the Russian and East European Institute (REEI) and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC), whose programs support both the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. The IAUNRC is the only National Resource Center devoted specifically to Inner Asian studies in the country. The REEI is one of twelve Russian and East European National Resource Centers in the U.S. that support Eurasian studies.

      • Consortial agreements
        1. Exchange agreements
          Active exchanges in which materials have been sent or received in the last two fiscal years are included here.
          • Estonia
            • Library of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Ravala Avenue 10, Tallinn EE0103.
            • Tartu State University Library, 1 Struve St., 202 400 Tartu.
          • Hungary
            • Dr. Jozsef Vekerdi. Head of the Int'l. Exchange, National Szechnyi Library, H-1827 Budapest.
            • University of Szeged, University Library. 6701 Szeged, Dugonics ter 13, P.O.B. 393.
          • Cooperative collection development
            Over the years, collection managers in the Indiana University Libraries at Bloomington have discussed cooperative collection development with several other academic librarians in the Midwest region whose institutions have significant collections of Central Eurasian materials. These discussions have not resulted in formal cooperative collection development agreements and procedures, but have helped to clarify how the various institutions’ collections overlap and complement each other. Changing local program requirements continue to drive collection development, regardless of holdings at other libraries, and no systematic comparison of collection strengths among the various libraries concerned with Central Eurasian materials has been made.

          • Consortial collection development
            The Indiana University is a member of the Center for Research Libraries, which manages a number of consortial microform projects for various area studies programs. The relevant program for Central Eurasian Studies is the Slavic and East European Microform Project (SEEMP). The purpose of SEEMP is to acquire microform copies of unique, scarce, rare and/or unusually bulky and expensive research material pertaining to the field of Slavic and East European studies; and to preserve deteriorating printed and manuscript materials of scholarly value. Geographically its areas of interest include the countries of Eastern and Central Europe (Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine), Russia, the Transcaucasian countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), and the Central Asian countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).

        Central Eurasian Studies Home Page

        Revised April 2012

      last updated: 4/19/2012