Burma/Myanmar Library is a database which functions as an annotated, classified
and hyperlinked index to full texts of individual
Need for the Library
The Internet currently holds more than 100,000 Burma-related documents, from short news items to complete books, scattered over more than 500 websites (not all of which have internal search functions) run by the UN system, governments, academic institutions, media sites, listserv archives, human rights and other NGOs, activist groups and individuals. The volume is growing rapidly as more and more organisations choose to publish on the Internet. Even using modern search engines it is difficult and time-consuming to research this widely-scattered material. There is clearly need for a central index.
This is what the Online Burma/Myanmar Library seeks to provide. Launched in October 2001, it is organised on a database (using MySQL software, in combination with PHP) into 60 top-level categories based on traditional library classifications, with a hierarchy of some 850 sub-categories. These hold approximately 4000 links (mostly annotated, with keywords and descriptions) to individual documents, and about 400 links to websites which in turn give access to another 100,000 or so documents. The database allows rapid searching in all or specific fields – description/keyword, date, language (we are building up our collection of non-English texts), title, author, source/publisher etc. It can also be browsed through the subject hierarchies. A third way of finding material is provided by a simple alphabetical list of the 900 categories and sub-categories. We are using the Greenstone digital library software to build the collection of documents housed on-site. This software allows full-text searching, though at present only the Burma Press Summary uses this feature fully (we would like to hear from people with experience of this software).
The Library's starting point historically was the Burma Peace Foundation's documentation of the human rights situation in
are particularly keen to build up the section of bibliographies of individual
regard to Burma-related documents in electronic form which are not on the
Internet, the Library encourages owners (individuals, organisations, or academic
institutions) to place them on their own websites and send the URLs to the
Librarian, or send them to be placed directly on the Library site. Important
documents which do not exist in electronic form, and which are not listed for
digitisation by any library, will eventually be scanned and housed on the
would like to hear from librarians who are digitising collections which contain
texts relating to
Since its launch in 2001, the Online Burma/Myanmar Library has received an enthusiastic welcome from a wide range of users, from senior
Dedication and acknowledgements
The Online Burma Library is dedicated to the people of Burma, who have been the last to know what has been written about their country.
Thanks are due to the Burma Project of the Open Society Institute for financial support, to the people at ibiblio (a collaboration of the Center for the Public Domain and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) for hosting the site and doing all the technical work and to the innumerable members of the Burma support community and others, who have given guidance on the content and structure of the Library, and who, I hope, will continue their input.
The Librarian (David Arnott)