The Bengali Wikipedia has taken a big step towards digitising and making public a big collection of Bengali little magazines – many of them of iconic stature but having little accessibility – the oldest ones dating back to 1872, at the Little Magazine Library and Research Centre.
Among the publications people would get free access to are issues of Bangadarshan, a literary magazine Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay founded in 1872 and Rabindranath Tagore revived in 1901, and Tatwabodhi, one of the prime publications during the Bengal Renaissance.
The first page of the first issue of Bangadarshan (fullyindia.com)
The collection also comprises rare issues of pre-independence-era magazines that shaped Bengal’s literary and cultural journey. Among them are Sabuj Patra (edited by Pramatha Choudhury), Kallol, Kali Kalam (edited by Premendra Mitra, Muralidhar Basu and Sailajananada Mukhopadhyay), Langol, Dhumketu (both brought out by Kazi Nazrul Islam) Swadhinata (CPI’s Bengali mouthpiece), Nabajug, Nachghar (edited by Hemendra Kumar Roy), Kobita (edited by Buddhadeb Basu) and Samasamayik (edited by Nirad C Chaudhury).
“I’m happy with this initiative. Recently we have been suffering from acute space crunch. There are publications here that are tough to find anywhere else,” said Sandip Dutta, founder-secretary of the library who has built the enormous collection almost single-handedly over the past 38 years.
Library founder Sandip Dutta among his precious piles (taazinews.com)
The Little Magazine Library and Research Centre has a collection of about 70,000 little magazines and is a frequent destination for researchers. This is Wikipedia’s first venture in eastern India under the GLAM (Gallery Library Archive Museum) project.
“We have taken up this project because it is one of the finest collections of alternative magazines in India. The great collection of experimental, radical, alternative and avant-garde periodicals and little magazines should be accessible to everyone living in any corner of the world. Foreign researchers too visit the library often. Once we complete the work, they won’t need to visit it physically,” Santanu Chandra of Bengali Wikipedia said.
Santanu Chandra of Bengali Wikipedia, one of the brains behind the project (Wikipedia)
The three/four-member team from Wikipedia would digitise mainly the ones published between 1872 and 1964, as publications 1965 onwards may have copyright issues. The work would start at the end of June and the digitised pages would be uploaded on the Wikimedia Commons section. The process would take more than six months.
Little magazine stalls have been a regular feature at the Kolkata Book Fair (Wikipedia)
The article was first published in Hindustan Times, June 25, 2015
Lead image: saptannoyi.blogspot.in