A maroon hardback copy of a century-old book, autographed by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s, sits in a locker at the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sanghralaya Library at Gamdevi.
The book, Bombay in the Making, published in 1910, has stains and torn pages. However, from Sunday, on Gandhi Jayanti, the book, along with 104 other rare and crumbling tomes that were a part of Gandhi’s collection will get a new lease of life, with the launch of the Adopt-a-Book scheme.
A brainchild of Mani Bhavan’s committee members, the online scheme will accept contributions — monetary and in kind — from donors across the globe, to conserve literary treasures.
“Donors can select a book and make their contribution, which will be used for its upkeep. The list of 105 books up for adoption in the initial phase will be uploaded on our website,” said Dr Usha Thakkar, honorary secretary, Mani Bhavan.
“These rare and out-of-print books cannot be traced in other libraries or private collections. The aim of this scheme is to preserve the books and encourage Gandhi’s followers to get involved with our organisation,” she added.
The expansive collection comprises not just Gandhi’s works and teachings, but also books on the evolution of Bombay, the East India Company and reports of the Congress party.
“There are books by Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel that were published in Lahore during the freedom struggle,” said Sandhya Mehta, coordinator and researcher at the Bhavan.
Those donating Rs 5,000 will get a certificate and an acknowledgement in the library’s annual report. Those making a contribution of Rs 10,000 will get an additional mention in a special register.
“For contributions of Rs 25,000, a personalised bookplate, along with one of Gandhi’s quotations, will be inserted in the chosen book,” said Ranjan Bharuchi, librarian.