This article first appeared in ISAW Newsletter 13, Fall 2015.

David M. Ratzan
Head Librarian

I am very pleased to report that the past six months have been active and rewarding ones for the ISAW Library. We made great strides in collection development (particularly in Assyriology, Central Asia, and ancient China) while all but eliminating our cataloging backlog; yet our most noteworthy achievement—and our most promising developments—were in the digital realm.

Ancient World Digital Library (AWDL)

Pride of place in this update belongs to the long–awaited and successful retooling of the Ancient World Digital Library (AWDL), which we relaunched in May. AWDL is a joint project of ISAW and the NYU Division of Libraries, which aims to collect, curate, and sustain a digital library of important materials and scholarship for the cross-boundary and interdisciplinary research pursued at ISAW. Beyond its specific curatorial focus, AWDL also distinguishes itself by partnering with scholars, institutions, and publishers 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 new AWDL portal boasts a much more user-friendly interface as well as several new features, including an improved book viewer and the ability to browse items geographically via an interactive map called the AWDL Atlas. We also took this opportunity to publish 121 titles to AWDL from our partner Brill and the entire run of the Newsletter of the Circle for Inner Asian Art, the predecessor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology (co-edited by ISAW’s Judith Lerner and Sören Stark). We have more material scheduled for publication this autumn and I invite you all to explore the new AWDL, which you may find under “Finding Resources” tab on the ISAW Library webpage.

Three men stand and smile in front of a wall of bookcases. Head Librarian David Ratzan with Assistant Research Scholars and Catalogers Junli Diao and Gabriel McKee Digital Humanities

Besides the continued development and expansion of AWDL, another of the Library’s strategic goals for the next two years will be to deepen its partnership with Digital Programs, in an effort to bring greater institutional coherence to ISAW’s impressive digital humanities portfolio. This is a multifaceted initiative, which includes the creation of a sequence of courses and curricular support for digital approaches to antiquity; the hosting of regular events and workshops for graduate students and advanced practitioners (the first of which will take place this October); and the integration of various existing digital projects with the new discovery and preservation services being developed by the Division of Libraries. You may follow our activities between Newsletters—from monthly updates on new acquisitions to news about our digital projects—on the ISAW Library Blog or the ISAW Library Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Staff Updates

Finally, with growth there is always change. One of those changes is the departure of Junli Diao, our indefatigable Chinese-language bibliographer and cataloger. Junli joined ISAW in September 2012 with the brief to help us build a core collection of primary source material and scholarship on ancient China. Three years and thousands of volumes later, we have a small, but comprehensive and up-to-date study collection of textual editions, catalogs, and archaeological reports spanning the Neolithic to the Tang dynasty. We are deeply grateful for unstinting labor, and all who worked with him will miss his obvious devotion to our faculty, students, and scholars. 祝好运, Junli!