Conference and agm


This year's NACIRA conference was held on Zoom at 13:00-16:30 UTC on Tuesday 6 Dec.

The conference theme was: Asian Plants and Animals: Studying Asian Flora and Fauna in UK Heritage Collections (Flyer)

Ed Weech (Chair of NACIRA) Opening Remarks

PART I: Flora

Isabelle Charmantier (Head of Collections, Linnean Society) The Linnean Society’s Asian Collections [streaming video]

Holly Morgenroth (Collections Officer, Royal Albert Memorial Museum) Nature’s Empire [streaming video]

Henry Noltie (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) Indian collections at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh [streaming video]

PART II: Fauna

Ann Sylph (Librarian, Zoological Society of London) Animals of Asia: sources and research ideas at ZSL [streaming video]

Cam Sharp Jones (Visual Arts Curator) and Cheryl Tipp (Wildlife and Environmental Sounds Curator, The British Library) Animals in the Library: Sound and Art collections at the British Library [streaming video]


The conference theme was: Lessons and Reflections: New Ways of Working in the Pandemic Era (Flyer)

Colin Baker (Chair of NACIRA) Opening Remarks [streaming video]

Christopher Burgess (Head of Exhibitions and Public Programmes, Cambridge University Library) Research Libraries and Public Engagement: A New Future? [streaming video]

Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert (Digital Curator, Asian and African Collections, British Library) Working in Pandemic Times: the Digital Scholarship Perspective [streaming video]

Sam van Schaik (Head of the Endangered Archives Programme, British Library) The Endangered Archives Programme – Responses to a Pandemic [streaming video]

Alasdair Watson (Bahari Curator of Persian Collections, Bodleian Library) TEA and TEI: How I survived Lockdown [streaming video]

Ilana Tahan (Lead Curator Hebrew and Christian Orient Collections, British Library) Hebrew Manuscripts Exhibition [streaming video]


The conference theme was: Cartographic Discoveries: Asian Maps in UK Collections (Flyer)

Colin Baker (Chair of NACIRA) Opening remarks [streaming video]

Nick Krebs (British Library) Capturing the maps: Arabia, the Gulf and the Qatar Digital Library [streaming video]

Yossef Rapoport (Queen Mary University of London) Islamic maps [streaming video]

Mélodie Doumy (British Library/International Dunhuang Project) Mapping the sky in Ancient China: the world’s earliest star atlas [streaming video]

Anne Taylor (Cambridge University Library) Cambridge University Library map collection: a treasure trove [streaming video]

Maria Kekki (British Library) and Jotika Khur-Yearn (SOAS Library) Mapping the Shan States - old maps and manuscripts from the British Library and SOAS Library [streaming video]


The conference theme was: Searching for the Sacred: Resources for the Study of Religion in Asia (Flyer)

Onesimus Ngundu (Bible Society's Library, Cambridge University) Missionary records and Bible translations in the Bible Society Archives at Cambridge

Moojan Momen (The Afnan Library) The Baha`i faith: introduction and information resources

Daryl Ireland (Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University) and Ruth Macdonald (Salvation Army Heritage Centre) Chinese Christian Posters project

César Merchán-Hamann (Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies) The Lady Drower Collection of Mandaean scrolls

Alex Whitfield (British Library) Discovering Sacred Texts: a new online resource

Jana Igunma (British Library) The British Library's 'Buddhism'exhibition: opportunities and challenges


The conference theme was: Unlocking Resources for Asian arts: Museums, Libraries and Galleries (Flyer)

  • Pamela Kember (Head of Arts & Learning, Asia House): Changing Perceptions: archiving contemporary art from Asia

  • Dr Luisa Elena Mengoni (Head of Asian & African Collections, British Library): The power of culture: sharing physical and digital resources for sustained cultural dialogues

  • Ada de Witt (Assistant Curator, Wallace Collection): Asian Art in the Wallace Collection

  • Dr Venetia Porter (Assistant Keeper, Islamic & Contemporary Middle East, British Museum): The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World

  • Dr Malini Roy (Head of Visual Arts, British Library): Visual Arts Collections at the British Library

  • Edward Weech (Librarian, Royal Asiatic Society): Digitization, accessibility, sustainability: online collections at the Royal Asiatic Society


The conference theme was: Science in Asia: Shining a Light on Resources

  • Dr Bink Hallum (British Library): Resources for the study of British Library Arabic scientific manuscripts

  • John Moffett (Needham Institute): The Needham Research Institute: a hub for resources on the history of Chinese Science in the UK

  • Dr Antonia Moon (British Library): Medical and botanical science in the India Office Records

  • Dr Camillo Formigatti (Bodleian Library): Better safe than sorry? On the results of the radiocarbon dating of the Bakhshali Manuscript and their impact on academic discussion

  • Exhibition tour of Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation


The conference theme was: India Beyond Borders

  • Camillo Alessio Formigatti (Bodleian Libraries) & Craig Jamieson (Cambridge University Library): Setting the scene: Indian collections in UK libraries

  • Alia Carter (British Library): Two centuries of Indian print

  • Matt Kimberley (Science Museum): Science and technology in India

  • Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur (SOAS): The Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR): preserving the world's tangible and intangible heritage in South Asia and beyond

  • Professor Timothy Barrett (SOAS): Travelling Buddhism


The conference theme was: Bespoke Libraries


  • Professor Rana Mitter, (University of Oxford China Centre) Welcome address

  • Dr César Merchan-Hamann, ( Bodleian Library): The Leopold Muller Memorial Library: an introduction to the collections. [Link]

  • Marina Chellini, (British Library): Digitally reunifying the Mewar Ramayana: an Indo-UK collaborative project. [Link]

  • Professor Donna Kurtz, (Oxford e-Research Centre): CLAROS: The World of Art on the Semantic Web [Link]


The conference theme was: Redefining the Audience for Asian Collections


The conference theme was: Applied Materials: Making Oriental Collections Visible

  • Ursula Sims-Williams, Curator of Iranian Languages and Malini Roy, Visual Arts Curator, (British Library) on Curating the British Library’s Mughal Exhibition

  • Daniele Cuneo and Camillo Formigatti, Research Associates, (Cambridge UL) on the Sanskrit manuscript project at the University of Cambridge

  • Tim Clark, Head of the Japanese Section, Dept. of Asia (British Museum) on the British Museum’s Shunga Exhibition

  • Ben Outhwaite, Head of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, (Cambridge UL) on the Genizah digitization project

  • Viewing of manuscripts and images from the collections of Cambridge University Library


The conference theme was: Revealing Hidden Gems: Asian Collections in the 21st Century

  • Gillian Evison and Andrew Skilton, (Bodleian Library): The union catalogue of Buddhist Shan manuscripts project.

  • Annabel Gallop, (British Library) The work of the South East Asian section of the British Library, with a visit to the collections

  • Chris Dillon, (University College London): The future scenario for non-Roman script domain names

  • Peter Kornicki, (Cambridge University): The growth of Tangut studies


The conference theme was: The Medium is the Message: New Digital Resources for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

  • Ishida Takeshi, Director of the Japan Foundation, London and our host: Opening remarks

  • Rachel Rowe, Smuts Librarian in South Asian and Commonwealth Studies, (Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge): Progress in the digitisation of the Centre’s film and oral history collection

  • Malcolm Raggett, Technical Advisor to the project at SOAS: The Fürer-Haimendorf Archive Digitisation Project at SOAS: creating an online resource for the historical study of tribal cultures in South Asia and the Himalayas

  • Jane Lewisohn, Research Associate at SOAS and Principal Researcher for the project: Preserving the Intangible Heritage of Iran: 20th Century Classical Persian Music: The Golha project sponsored by the Endangered Archives project and the Iran Heritage

  • Sam van Schaik, Senior Researcher for the Dunhuang Project: Developments in the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library


The conference theme was: Expect the Unexpected: Hidden Resources in the UK

  • Nicholas Martland as Chairman of NACIRA (British Library: Curator, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific collections): Opening remarks

  • Dr John McAleer, Curator of 18th-Century Imperial and Maritime History, (National Maritime Museum at Greenwich): On the archives and collections, with particular reference to the new Indian Ocean/ Asian Seas Gallery and the maritime history of the East India Company

  • Caroline Lloyd, Head of Library & Archives, (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine): The diverse range of subjects covered in the printed and archival collections and how they provide a rich resource for historians and social scientists

  • Steven Cable, Principal Records Specialist, Maps, Plans & Photos, (National Archives): Revealing maps and photographs relating to Asia in the National Archives

  • Beth McKillop, Director of Collections and Keeper of Asia, (Victoria and Albert Museum): The Victoria and Albert Museum collections of Asian works on paper, and the new 'Search the Collections' feature of the V&A website


The theme of the conference was: Expanding the Boundaries of Information Resources on Asia in the UK marking the establishment of NACIRA, the emphasis was on reaching the widening range of customers for our resources.

  • Nicholas Martland (Faculty Librarian for Arts and Humanities/South and South East Asia and Pacific at SOAS: Opening Address on the future role for NACIRA and UKIRA {formerly Mapping Asia}

  • Ms Sally Curry (Library Collaboration Programme Manager, Research Information Network): RIN and its aim to improve communication and access to information resources for researchers

  • Dr Justin Watkins (Senior Lecturer in Burmese, SOAS): Project to create the Dictionary of the Wa Language with Burmese (Myanmar), Chinese, and English Glosses and the Internet Database for Minority Languages of Burma (Myanmar)

  • Dr Alison Ohta (Curator, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland)


The Theme of the conference was: Asian and North African Studies – 40 Years On, marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the NCOLR, emphasising the future needs for library resources and the role of librarians within the wider context of academic developments relating to the regions covered by our members.

  • Professor Peter Robb (Pro-Director, SOAS): The future of Oriental studies research and the role of libraries in supporting it

  • Professor Christopher Minkowski (Boden Professor of Sanskrit, University of Oxford): The study of Sanskrit in India’s ‘early modern’ moment

  • Dr Jackie Sheehan (School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham): Starting from scratch: developing Chinese studies library resources at Nottingham

  • John McIllwaine presented a personal view of 40 years of NCOLR and its future.


  • David Pearson (SOAS Library): Update on the Mapping Asia Project

  • David Helliwell (Bodleian Library): Piet van der Loon's collection of Chinese books at the Bodleian Library

  • Kevin Greenbank and Ivan Coleby (Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge): South Asia Oral History Digitisation Project

  • Gillian Evison (Bodleian Library, Oxford): An introduction to ARTstor

  • Nikolai Serikoff (Wellcome Institute): Manuscripts: beyond the texts


  • Graham Shaw (British Library): The Endangered Archives Programme: an introduction

  • Gillian Evison (Bodleian Library): An introduction to MODS and METS: the Metadata Object Schema and the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard

© National Committee for Information Resources on Asia