Digital bug to bite Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya soon


Himalayan News Service

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Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, one of the oldest libraries and archive centres of Nepal, is going online soon. More than 500 Nepali language literary works will be available at the click of a mouse.

Having introduced a new digitised archival system four years back, the library is now preparing to launch an online version. Dipak Aryal, research and publication director of the library, said the Pustakalaya is

all set to digitise all materials collected so far.

According to him, the library management is looking forward to manage periodicals, ephemera, audio/visuals, manuscripts and postage stamps, among others. “Our bid to systematise the record keeping will take place in several phases,” he said, adding that the management has already started recording books and photographs online.

Digitisation, already popular in libraries across the world, will largely help preserve and promote Nepali literature, say Pustakalaya officials. The library has already digitised almost 400 old Nepali books out of its total collection of 30,878, Aryal said. “The target is to record at least 500 books by next year.”

“We have also set up the same kind of mechanism to keep record of newspapers and journals,” he said. “Our recent record of newspapers include those that have already been torn or eaten up by insects.”

The Pustakalaya’s archive include each edition of more than 5,000 newspapers. Sub-editor at the library, Ananta Raj Koirala, said the old newspapers have been microfilmed to protect them from wear and tear.

“We haven’t been able to digitise those microfilmed old newspapers because of the lack of enough budget and necessary equipment,” he said. “Therefore, it may take a little bit long time to convert the old newspapers into digital form.”

Since last year the Pustakalaya has been keeping digital record of newspapers everyday. Koirala said the library digitises around 50 newspapers including weeklies everyday.

Apart from books and newspapers, the library has also uploaded more than 500 old photographs that comprises exclusive portraits of Nepali litterateurs and palaces built, among others. “The process of recording photographs will also gradually be speeded up.” Out of the collection of nearly 40,000 photographs, 15,000 are old and black and white photos. Digitisation of ephemera, audio/visuals, manuscripts and postage stamps has begun in earnest.

According to Aryal, the library has been using four cameras and three scanners to digitise the collected materials. The government has started allocating Rs 1 million budget to the Pustakalaya from last year. The Ministry of Education endorses budget as a part of conditional grants given to libraries, archives and other similar organisations.

Aryal said the library has all that it requires to become a treasure trove of information and old literature. “But the government has to take necessary steps to develop Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya and make it as an important asset of the country,” he added.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)