ISAW Library Relaunches Ancient World Digital Library with Redesigned Portal

By David Ratzan

AWDL began as a collaboration between ISAW and DLTS in 2010. Although the AWDL website has been completely redesigned and expanded, AWDL’s mission remains to collect, curate, and sustain a digital collection of important research materials for the use of both the NYU and the general scholarly community, with a special focus on the cross-boundary and interdisciplinary research from the Mediterranean to Northern China pursued at ISAW. Besides its specific curatorial focus, AWDL also distinguishes itself from similar digital publishing projects by actively seeking to partner with scholars, institutions, and publishers in order to collect and serve digitized content that is either still in-print or under copyright, in addition to older material no longer under copyright.

The first product of the ISAW-DLTS collaboration was a stand-alone book viewer, serving titles in the Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) scanned by the Internet Archive (IA). The original AWDL site will remain active until these titles can be migrated to the new AWDL, which may be found at The redesigned AWDL offers an improved book viewer, as well as several new features and new content. One interesting new feature is the ability to browse AWDL geographically by using the AWDL Atlas, an open map built with Google Fusion Tables.

The new AWDL publishes 121 titles from our partner Brill, as well as the entire run of the Newsletter of the Circle for Inner Asian Art, the predecessor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology. The American Society of Papyrologists has also partnered with ISAW, permitting AWDL to digitize and serve its monographic series, American Studies in Papyrology. These books will be published to AWDL over the next few months. Each digital object has a unique, persistent URL, maybe downloaded as a pdf, and has been cataloged with high-quality MARC records, so that it is discoverable from both Bobcat (NYU’s Library catalog) and WorldCat.

AWDL projects for the near-term include: building AWDL content; presenting ISAW Papers and ISAW’s digital publications from the NYU Press in the AWDL portal; and enhancing search capabilities within items.

For more information about AWDL, please write to David M. Ratzan, the ISAW Head Librarian at You may follow feature updates and new content publication to AWDL by following the ISAW Library Blog.