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Rare books in city colleges to be digitised

More than a century-old frayed rare books lying in some of the city’s oldest academic institutions are set to be digitally saved for posterity.

mumbai Updated: Nov 14, 2011 01:00 IST
Deepti Khera
Deepti Khera
Hindustan Times

More than a century-old frayed rare books lying in some of the city’s oldest academic institutions are set to be digitally saved for posterity.

In an effort to preserve some of the oldest and rare books dating back to 1800s, the Karimi library at Anjuman-I-Islam High School, CST, in August started digitising more than 5,000 books such as the Hanuman Chalisa in Urdu and Valmiki’s Ramayana in Persian in August.

Joining the club next year is the St Xavier’s College at Dhobi Talao and Ruia College, Matunga that will also start digitising their rare breed of books.

“These books are not available anywhere. Before they get destroyed, we want to digitise them and make them accessible to the people of the Mumbai,” said Zahir Kazi president of Anjuman-I-Islam Trust that has invested Rs 1 crore in the project. “We will finish the project in one year; after which it will be available to both students and public.” With 5550 books classified as rare, Ruia College applied for collaboration with National Archives of India last month and are awaiting a response. “At present, these books are preserved in an air-conditioned room and are treated with pesticides. But these texts are fragile and need to be preserved before they are ruined,” said Veena Thakre, college librarian. The college plans to upload the books on its website for the public.

Next year, St. Xavier’s College library, that has a collection of more than one thousand rare books, has also decided to start work on the digitising project. The books range from a Marathi dictionary translated in English in 1857 to a book titled India, written by Richard Temple, the then governor of Bengal, in 1880. Librarian Medha Taskar said all the books were collected by priests in the institution based on their area of study.

“We do plan to preserve these rare books and will start work in the next year,” said Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal.

Ruia College, Matunga

5,550 Number of rare books
Accessible to students and public
Estimated budget: Rs 1cr
Some books: Memoirs Relative to the State of India (1786) by Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of India talking about his experiences in India.
Memoir of a Map of Hindustan of the Mughal Empire (1792) by James Rennell, an English historian who surveyed India and talks about the vast geography of the Mughal Empire.
Atha Rugvedi Brahmakarm Prarambha (1888): hymns of the Rig Veda.

St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao

1,000 Number of rare books
Accessible only to students
Estimated budget: Still to be worked out.
Some books: The Bible in Marathi (1885) and printed for the Bombay Auxiliary Bible Society at the American Mission Press.
Dictionary of Marathi translated to English (1857) by James T Molesworth.
Famines and Land Assessments in India (1900) by Romesh Chandra Dutt, economic historian. He had written open letters to Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy about how 22 famines had taken place in 130 years of the Raj.

First Published: Nov 14, 2011 00:58 IST