In order to set the minds of UK-based researchers at rest, it may be useful to clarify the nature of the deposit of Indian official publications from the British Library at the University of Chicago Library and to outline the procedures followed.
As part of the planning for maximizing the use of storage space in the British Library's new building at St Pancras, various duplications within the Library's holdings were identified. Among these were the two sets of Indian Official Publications which had been received separately by the British Museum Library and the India Office Library & Records, largely under colonial legal deposit, up to Independence.
To improve world-wide access to pre-Independence Indian Official Publications, it was decided that one set - that originally acquired by the British Museum Library - would be deposited with the University of Chicago Library. No substantial set was to be found at any major centre for Indian historical research in North America - this deposit has almost tripled the availability of pre-1947 Indian Official Publications in the United States - whereas very good holdings existed in India itself, for instance at the Central Secretariat Library in New Delhi. This deposit at Chicago - *not* outright donation, as ownership still rests with the British Library - also built upon the strategic partnership for cooperation already being developed between our two libraries.
The India Office Library & Records set is retained at the British Library as it is the more complete and because the British Library is mindful of its obligations towards any part of its collections subject to outstanding ownership claims. In order to ensure that UK researchers would still enjoy access to the most comprehensive set of Indian Official Publications possible, as part of the deposit process the holdings of the two sets at the British Library were matched to identify unique items within each set. This process was a considerable undertaking and out of nearly 20,000 volumes checked, it appears that just 13 titles that were unique were initially deposited at Chicago. This represents an error rate of less than 0.075%, which shows the thoroughness of the checking process.
The University of Chicago Library has also made a major contribution to access to this material by having full MARC records created for each title. The bibliographic records are searchable on the University of Chicago's website whilst the MARC records are available on request to libraries from the University of Chicago.
Lastly, it must be stressed that under the terms of the deposit agreement those few unique volumes sent in error have already been returned by the University of Chicago Library to the British Library.
Accessing pre-Independence Indian Official Publications at the British Library
South Asia through Official Eyes - a cooperative website provide immdiate access to South Asian official publications throughout the UK. A project hosted by Bodleian Library, funded by Research Support Libraries Programme.