Hyderabad: For this treasure trove of books in the city, it has been a massive digitisation exercise spread over the years.
In the last 17 years, the State Central Library, Afzalgunj, has painstakingly scanned and digitised over 45,704 from its collection of books. And a lot more is to be done for the popular library which has a collection of over 5 lakh books.
Established in 1891, the State Central Library also known as Asafia Library is one of the biggest public libraries in the country with a collection of over 5 lakh books, newspapers and other periodicals. Over the last two decades, the digital library staff has scanned and digitised 45,704 books and now are in plans of making that digitised collection available online at a nominal cost.
“We selected all the titles that are rare and free from copyrights and started this project under the National Library Mission in 2002. Over the next 17 years, we continuously undertook the work related to this project as and when we got the funds and the resources necessary and it was completed just a couple of months before the pandemic hit,” says Kesari Hanuman, Assistant Librarian and in-charge of the digital library section at SCL.
The library scanned 45,704 books in Arabic, English, Persian, Urdu, Telugu, Sanskrit and Hindi, totalling over 1.67 crore pages. Out of these, 17,435 are English titles, totalling to 71.6 lakh pages, while among other languages, Urdu is the next highest with 34.74 lakh pages. A significant number of these are at least a hundred years old.
“There is a massive wealth of Urdu, Persian and Arabic literature and we digitised thousands of books in those languages in addition to almost 10,000 books in Telugu,” says Hanuman, adding, “Many research scholars utilise the digitised copies of these for their research and library members can access soft copies of the books at a very nominal cost. We soon plan on having a website onto which we will upload all of these books and even that will be made available for a nominal cost.”
According to the Chief Librarian, A V N Raju, they are already in touch with the State IT department to provide them with the technical support, as he says, “We recently sent a letter to the IT department requesting technical support to make an online repository for these rare books.”
The library also digitised copies of various newspapers, until 1977. Some of these newspapers, like Andhra Patrika, Golconda Patrika, Meezan, Rayat, etc, don’t exist anymore and the digital library here is one of the few places to access information from those.
The State Central Library was started in 1891 because of the efforts of Syed Hussain Bilgrami, a civil-servant under Nizam rule. His personal book collection became the base for the library and later in 1936, it was shifted to its present location and in 1955, it was declared as the State Central Library.
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