The historic Assembly Chamber in Fort St. George is to be converted into the reference library of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT).

“Our plan is to make the library a comprehensive repository of all resources on classical Tamil. Not only palm leaf and paper manuscripts but also digital version of resources will be there,” says K. Ramasamy, CICT officer-in-charge. It will have rare collections of Tamil literary works, which date back to 600 A.D.

At present, the Institute's library functions from a room at Palar Illam on Kamarajar Salai. It has 20,000 titles and 1,000 compact discs.

In view of inadequate space, the CICT last month had requested the State Tamil Development, Religious Endowment and Information Department to allot the old Chamber to it for running the library.

An order issued by Assembly Secretary M. Selvaraj a week ago stated that the Chamber was being handed over to the Tamil Development, Religious Endowment and Information Department with the consent of the Public Department for being converted into the library of the CICT.

The ground floor of the old Assembly Chamber measures 4,000 sq. ft. with two balconies of 1,000 sq. ft. each.

Prof. Ramasamy says though the Assembly Secretariat and the State government are keen that the Institute should take possession of the old Assembly Chamber immediately, the library cannot be housed there without a proper plan.

“We have approached an architect to draw up a plan.” The Institute authorities are likely to move over to the old Chamber next month. It may take a year for carrying out their plans on the library, he says.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, the order issued by the Assembly Secretary notes that there are chances of the winter session of the Assembly commencing during October-November. On expeditious completion of the works of the new Assembly complex, all sections and offices of the Assembly Secretariat will be shifted.

Mr. Selvaraj says the decision was taken after consultations with top officials of the government.

On March 13, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared open the new Assembly-Secretariat complex on Omandurar Government Estate. Six days later, the State budget was presented in the new Assembly Chamber. On January 11, the old Chamber witnessed, for the last time, the conduct of Assembly proceedings.