There is an antique work on the shelves of the State Central Library to which access is restricted.

Its date of publication reads 1569. It is called the ‘Righte Noble and Pleasant History of the Successors of Alexander Surnamed the Great,’ and now anyone with an Internet connection can explore the contents of the book, all 338 pages of it, by visiting the ‘archives’ section of the library’s website.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday inaugurated this landmark achievement of the library - inclusion of the digital archive of rare books and government gazettes to its official website.

The foundation stone of the new reference block was laid at the function. The block will be built in consonance with the Victorian style architecture of the library building.

The need for an additional building was raised by library officials owing to the lack of space to accommodate new books.

Hurdles regarding allotment of land for its construction have been overcome, and the Public Works Department has proposed an estimate of Rs.3 crore for the three-floor ‘Heritage Model Reference Block.’

The building little hints that the library has embraced modern technology, even achieving the distinction of being the one State library in the country to be fully computerised. Online book reservation and renewal, Internet access for members, self check-in and check-out, and securing of books using RFID tags have led to the development of the library over the past few decades.

“This library has brought great pride to the State and the government will offer all support it requires,” Mr. Chandy said.

Dismissing claims that the Internet and the visual media had displaced the reading habit, he said the library had, instead, utilised such media to ensure the safety and dissemination of its reading material.

Mr. Chandy said he would look into the complaints of the employee association regarding staff shortage.

Earlier, only library members could access the digital archive via its local network. Now, over 5 lakh pages of rare books and Travancore/Travancore-Cochin/Kerala gazettes dating back to 1904 have flooded into the public domain.

Librarian P. Suprabha said during her address that Kerala gazettes post-1954 were in the process of being digitised, and would be uploaded soon.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurates inclusion of the digital archive of rare books of Central Library to its website.