National Library, Kolkata: The first public Library to be established in Eastern India – The National Library is India’s second largest library situated in West Bengal’s Capital City – Kolkata. It is a sprawling white-pillared edifice that is built on 1, 20,000 square metres (30 acres) of lush gardens at the Belvedere Estate at 22°31 59"N 88°20 0"E.
The National Library houses more than 24, 00,000 (2.4 million) books and more than 5, 00,000 (half a million) documents, 86,000 maps, more than 3200 manuscripts, 250 volumes of correspondence and diaries, 334 volumes of palm-leaf manuscripts and more than 45 kilometres of shelf space and the reading rooms alone can seat 550 people at a time which attracts about 18 thousand members a day apart from visitors and tourists. The campus of this Library encompasses 30 acres of land. The National Library is a hub of all intellectual, academic and scholarly activities and is the source of scholarly pursuits of the country.
Designated to collect, preserve and distribute the printed material produced in India, the National Library is an institution of National importance, and is under the purview of the Government of India’s Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture.
The National Library is currently housed in what used to be the official residence of the Governor General of Bengal – The Head of British Administration in India – Warren Hastings.
A separate Indian Language Division has been set up in the National Library for Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu Languages. Pali and Prakrit books are collected and processed by the Sanskrit Language Division. English books published in India are also collected under D.B. Act – the Delivery of Books and Newspapers to the Public Libraries and the National Library Act 1954. The D B Act regulated the collection of books at the Public Libraries without prejudice.
At the Library, the objects on display are:
(i)Rare books, valuable manuscripts of the pre-British and British days
(ii)Original letters and manuscripts of eminent personalities which show rare and special bindings
(iii)Tamil manuscripts on Ashutosh collection
(iv) Rare Books from 16th century including limited and paintings on mica plates
(v)Paintings including original water colour paintings
(vi)Manuscripts on Palm-leaves
Having earmarked Rs. 6 crores for the digitization – namely automation, modernization and networking of libraries of the National Library in the Annual Action Plan, it is an endeavour of the Indian Government to safeguard the ‘texts’ for future.
In late 90s, the National Library undertook a pilot project entitled "Down Memory Lane" to digitize its rare and brittle books which comprised English books that were published prior to 1900 and Indian books published before 1920. Under this project, a total of 6601 books containing more than 2.5 million pages were scanned and archived in 548 CD-ROMs between February 1999 to June 2001.
A sample project was undertaken by the National Library with the objective of better understanding on the different issue pertaining to the digitization of Manuscripts for which ‘Tutinamah’ – a wonderful Persian manuscript and well-known tales of a parrot, by Diya-I-Nakhshabi (d. AD 751 - AD 1350) who composed it by 1330 A D. This manuscript consisted of 52 stories written in clear India Taliq with 36 coloured exquisite illustrations created out of vegetable and organic dyes.
The project was set up with two operational areas: The Image Capture Section ( comprising a digital camera - Nikon D100 with bayonet mount 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S Zoom-Nikkor lens, mounted vertically on the photographic copy stand (Bogen System 800 Repro Copy Stand W/bb 1740), with side illumination through 40 watts incandescent lamp and the Digital Camera had special colormetric filters that enabled the camera to capture a broader spectrum of colors than most digital scanners) and the Image Processing Station (a HP Brio PC with Pentium IV processor, 128 MB DDR RAM, and had image processing software’s like Kodak Imaging, Adobe Photoshop 6 with image transfer device connected to the USB port, which gathered images from the memory card of the digital camera).
The digitization process involved:
(i)Document Assessment – assessing the condition of the document, sequence of pages, original page numbering order.
(ii)Image Capture – using 16 aperture, 55mm Focal Length and 2.5 seconds shutter speed.
(iii)Image Processing – included Image Identification Tagging, Image Quality Check, Basic Editing, Final Editing of unwanted stain marks and worm marks, Format Conversion into PDF, TIFF and JPEG and E-Book Format Conversion.