The British Library has exceptionally rich collections of government publications, both past and present, from many South Asian countries. These are particularly strong for the Indian subcontinent.
About the collection
Asian official publications have been acquired since the 19th century via colonial legal deposit, exchange agreements, donations, and by selective purchase.
Some key publications, such as census material and some official gazettes, are still being purchased but there is an accelerating trend away from print to online-only publication of many government documents.
For pre-independence Indian official publications, please see the India Office Records collection in the Asian & African Studies reading room initially.
What is available online?
Useful online tools and resources include:
Many governments now make their publications freely available on the Web. Please see our Guide to Asian official publications (PDF format) for more information.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Some reference material and finding aids to South Asian official publications are shelved in the Social Sciences and Asian and African Studies reading rooms. Most printed official publications have to be requested for delivery to the Social Sciences Reading Room. For pre-independence Indian official publications, readers should initially enquire in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
A more detailed description of current South Asian official publications series received by the British Library is available in our Guide to Asian official publications (PDF format). This guide covers:
- Hong Kong
- Korea (North and South)
- Sri Lanka
- Vietnam (North and South).
Given the complexity of this material, please also ask staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry Desk for help with finding out if we have the documents you need.
Registered readers have access to subscribed e-resources, including the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1688-, which offers a wealth of material on the political, social and economic development of the region, particularly the Indian subcontinent prior to independence, and Asia and the West, which presents primary source material on relations in the nineteenth century.