PU goes digital to save rare scripts

Mrityunjay Kumar, who is in charge of the library’s archival cell, said, “A United Nations reports in 2003 stated that though India has the highest number of manuscripts, t are not preserved properly for posterity.” Kumar said the Centre proposed the National Manuscript Mission after the United Nations sanctioned part of the funds for the programme to digitalise these manuscripts.

Explaining the process of converting texts into a digital format, Kumar said experts with extensive knowledge of various scripts first sort out the manuscripts. After every page of a manuscript has been checked to ascertain whether the pages are complete, and whether the index matches with the content, they are photographed with a digital camera.

The images are then transferred to computers.

One acute problem the library faced in the project was to find the right experts. “At times, it’s difficult to find experts because the scripts are very old,” Kumar said. But, “once the process of digitalisation is complete we would select the software to archive them.”

He said two softwares are available at present. “One is Green Stone, which is supported by Microsoft, and the other, D Space, is Unix-based.”

Kumar said images are worked on and colour is added to the pages at times — “when some pages are found to have been affected by termites” — but otherwise every effort is made to preserve the originality of the scriptures.

Librarian Dr V K Anand said the project intends to make the manuscripts widely available. “It is not possible for everyone to use them at present because they are extremely rare,” Anand said. “But people will be able to access them easily once the material is available online.”

Meanwhile, after the digitalisation process, the library plans to hold an annual exhibition of the manuscripts, which were donated to the university by people over the years.

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