Antique texts is being preserved in the ongoing digital drive

It may be a crumbly text with a frail spine from the outside, but its pages hide a rare treasure. The book, lying buried among volumes in the Public Library, contain meticulously drawn illustrations of what appears to be statues and engravings in temples.

According to one of the librarians here, a visit by a painter who is involved in the renovation work at the Madurai Meenakshi temple revealed that the drawings in the book are indeed sketches of the original from the temple, drawn to scale and with an anecdote scribbled in Tamil beneath each sketch.

Anonymous artist

Probably one of the rarest books here, the unfortunate part is no one knew who the artist is or who gave this rare manuscript to the library. “It was just there among the collection,” said a staff.

This book is among the many antique texts here that will be preserved in the digital drive going on in the library for the past few years.

In a phased manner, the library, in association with the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT), has been scanning government gazettes and original documents dating back to 1538.

The materials are available for viewing only in the Local Area Network of the library and in time, they will be uploaded to the Net.

“The library has completed work with gazettes between the 1904 and 1954,” another staff said.

Aside from creating a PDF format of the documents, those involved in the work had to go through a painstaking task of making corrections and eliminating loopholes.

In-built with a Malayalam keyboard and a dictionary, the software is capable of making connections with variants of the same word.

For instance, keying in ‘Travancore’ in the search box, will also display documents containing ‘Thiruvithancode’ in Malayalam and a Tamil version as well.

They have now begun work on gazettes dating post-1954. Few more old books are left to be converted and 1,183 of them have already been uploaded to the server.