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New life for old books
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- Subject: New life for old books
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- Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 06:34:53 +0000
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(from: The Hindu)
New life for old books
Date: 22-09-1997 :: Pg: 26 :: Col: a
Acquisition of a lamination machine has
greatly helped the Tamil Nadu Archives
to preserve rare and old books, says
What does an Asian-African safari have
to do with the massive Gothic red
building in Egmore?
``Some years' travels into Asia and
Africa'' (1638) is the oldest book in a massive
collection in the Tamil Nadu Archives library to get a
new look. Once brittle and crumbling to bits at a mere
touch, the crisp pages of the book are now available to
the public for reference. At least 400 other books bear
testimony to the innovations that have breezed into the
Tamil Nadu Archives library.
Lamination of books is only part of the TNA's efforts
at renovating the Archives and making it more user
friendly. ``It is only a small step we have taken, but
we hope it will make a difference,'' says Ms.
C.K.Gariyali, Commissioner of Archives. ``The primary
objective of the Archives is to preserve books, then
only comes research. So we preserve all the books and
records in our collection,'' the Archives librarian,
Mr. Namasivayam, adds. There are nearly 2.25 lakh books
in the library at present, and new books are added
periodically. A proposal to buy a lamination machine
was made in 1993 and was approved by a government order
in 1997. Eventually, two lamination machines were
purchased - one in March and the other in August this
year. Lamination of books started then and books from
the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
are being preserved thus.
``We have an enormous task before us, considering the
number of books to be laminated. Everyday a few books
are taken up,'' says Mr. Namasivayam. The advantage
with lamination is that the books can be preserved for
ages since plastic sheets are used to hold the pages
In addition to lamination, leather binding is also done
and titles are embossed at a cost of Rs. 150 a book.
The only disadvantage that might accrue out of
laminating books is that it goes against the dictum
that all books must be reversible - they must be
brought to their original form after the embellishments
``The library does not have any provision to weed out
old and rare books and so we do not destroy even a
single sheet,'' replies Mr. Namasivayam to queries
about whether any books or records were destroyed. Even
in the records section, only copies of original
document are destroyed, according to the Commissioner.
Sometimes there are more than five copies of every
document and GOs and these take up a lot of space. So
they have to be got rid of. Rare documents relating to
the East India Company's governance and records
relating to land ownership are preserved carefully even
today and serve as reference points for both the
Government and researchers.
A further amount of Rs. 5 lakhs has been sanctioned for
the reprint of old and rare books. Old paintings have
been reproduced at high cost and copies produced.
Though there are no facilities for direct fumigation of
the record rooms and the library, there is a mass
fumigation chamber wherein a large number of books and
records can be fumigated at a time. It is also an
ongoing process since every book or record must be
fumigated once in six months. There are also facilities
for dry and wet de- acidification.
Recently, the Archives assisted the U.S. Library of
Congress to microfilm rare Tamil books published during
the first half of this century. Arrangements are also
on to put the Archives on the Internet and prepare a
computerised database of the records and books
available with it.
A course on ``Record Maintenance and Preservation'' is
being conducted by the Archives' Preservation
department for State Government employees and for
private organisations at a fee.
The entrance fee collected for using the services of
the Archives has been raised from Rs. 25 to Rs. 100
with effect from July 1997 and the Deposit amount
collected from M.Phil. and Ph.D. scholars is Rs. 500 -
refundable after a copy of their thesis has been
submitted to the Archives.