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100-year-old books at Chennai's Presidency College to get new lease of life

The New Indian Express logo The New Indian Express 11-06-2019 Binita Jaiswal
a motorcycle parked on the side of a building: ONGC has funded Rs 9.49 lakh to the department © Provided by The New Indian Express ONGC has funded Rs 9.49 lakh to the department

CHENNAI: Century-old rare books lying in the library of Geology department of Presidency College will get a new lease of life soon. The college authority has decided to digitise the rare volume of books to enhance its lifespan. The college has received a funding of around Rs 9.49 lakh from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), which will be used in the digitisation project.

Officials said the college was started in 1840 and the department of Geology was added to the institute in 1886. “The library in Geology department was also set up in 1886. It is a treasure trove as we have many rare books, which will hardly be found anywhere else. We have stumbled upon some old books that were published in the year 1879 and 1890s,” said of HoD of Geology, B Gowtham.

He said the department’s library has a strong collection of over 5,000 books, of which at least 400 books are rare. “Experts from Geological Survey of India have visited our library to refer the rare books,” said Gowtham. College officials said there was a long-standing need to preserve these books but due to paucity of funds the institute was not able to do it.

“We will soon procure a printer, scanner and other necessary equipment for the digitisation work. We have segregated the rare books on a priority basis. The pages are fragile and the digitisation work needs to be done meticulously,” said principal of the college, R Ravanan.

The college also has plans to conserve the rare books in its current form. “Chennai Museum is doing lot of work on conserving rare books by using tissue paper lamination. We will discuss with them to help us in conserving our books. We have plans to urge our alumni to fund the project,” said Gowtham.

The authorities will also do barcoding of all books in the library. “Now, the library is managed manually. After adding barcodes, we can keep a tab on books issued and returned,” said an official.

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