Bid to retrieve rare books from Chennai

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 30. The State Archives Department is learnt to have initiated steps to retrieve about 1,000 valuable Malayalam books dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, including novels, which are in the custody of the Chennai Archives.

The books include those dealing with the social conditions in the erstwhile Travancore, Kochi and Malabar principalities, text-books edited by Kerala Varma Valiyakoyi Thampuran and Herman Gundert, and the Malayalam translation of `Vyavaharamaala', a text on social systems and the wage structure which were in use in the erstwhile Travancore between 1885 and 1947.

The department move comes after the Chennai Archives authorities conveying their decision to destroy the books following the Kerala Government's delay in taking custody of them.

These books, which had been presented to the Chennai Archives when Kerala was a part of the erstwhile Madras presidency, were being stored there with similar valuable books in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Following the reorganisation of the States, the Chennai authorities had requested the Kerala Government to take back the books.

The Chennai-based Forum of Malayalam Teachers in Tamil Nadu (FOMT), which earlier made a futile effort to take custody of the books, had urged the Culture Minister, Mr. G. Karthikeyan, to preserve these books at the State Archives library in the city.

The Assistant Director of the State Archives, Mr. Rejikumar, who visited the Chennai Archives, said the books would be brought here soon. According to him, about 1,000 valuable books had been sorted out and a list given to the Commissioner of Archives at Chennai.

Mr. Rejikumar said steps would be taken to preserve the books thus received. The books would be fumigated to destroy the insects and laminated and their contents would be transferred to microfilm if the need arose, he added.

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