M3 Features

Project to digitize libraries

March 26, 2014

National Library is tying up with British Library for a unique digitization project. The two heritage institutions will digitize, archive and exchange surrogate copies of early Bengali printed material dating from 1778 till 1914. Roly Keating, chief executive of British Library, is currently in the city “shaping the ambitious project and defining its first phase”.

Speaking to the media, 18 months after taking charge of the world’s second largest library and helping it reinvent itself, Keating said, “A digitization programme between the two libraries has been on the cards since 2011. Now, we are here to take the joint digitization project forward. The British Library has a lot of Bengali collections from the British Museum and the India Office Library. With contributions from the National Library, we could add value to our existing stock.” He is accompanied by Leena Mitford, head curator, South Asian Studies, British Library.

While elaborating on the British Library’s vast collection that is about to get bigger, both Keating and Mitford sounded excited about the Indian collaboration, which would also involve Jadavpur University, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad and Uttarpara Library, for digitisation of the mammoth collection between 1778 and 1914.

Based on preliminary talks with the Union ministry of culture and the British government in 2011, JU’s School of Cultural Text and Records readied a bibliography of Bengali books spanning 1778-1914.

The bibliography already has more than 2,500 entries till 1867; another 10,000 are likely to be added. “We have decided to use this bibliography. We shall also get surrogate copies of Bengali books from the British Library,” P Y Rajendra Kumar, director general of National Library, told TOI during a dinner with British Library representatives at Bengal Club on Monday.

The dinner was hosted by British Council director Sujata Sen to allow Keating meet those involved with museums, archives and exhibitions in Bengal.

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Comments (2)
Preetam Biswas Reply
March 27, 2014
National Library has one of the best collections of Indian texts. The digitisation would ensure that the old, often fragile books are handled as less as possible and thus properly preserved, yet the writings remain accessible.
Shikha Reply
March 27, 2014
This is great news. Being a research scholar on 19th century Bengali literature, this is really exciting news for me.
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