Rare Literature at IISC’s Digital Library
This digital library, truly multi-cultural and a delight for the voracious reader — hosting books as different as Jamaican coffee and Chinese tea — is also a statistical mind-boggler.
IISCs’ Digital Library of India has now digitized 1.5 lakh books or roughly 48 million pages. Along with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and 19 other institutes, IISc is undertaking the ‘Million Books Project’ — the aim is to digitize a million books sourced from every part of the world. The project, which has set a target of 250 million pages or 500 billion characters, is being undertaken under the ministry of communications and information technology.
So far, books have been sourced from a diverse pool — from Rashtrapati Bhavan, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam, Anna University, Carnegie Mellon University, Institute of Astrophysics, Tamil Heritage Foundation, among others.
What do these 48 million pages have to date? The variety is superb: history of the Parsis, Beethoven’s music, early American jazz, Sanskrit Brahmasutras, Chinese poems and Tamil palm leaves — all for starters.
Delve deeper into the web and see what more you find. There are works on astronomy going back to 1799, an encyclopaedia of 1889 and an 1884 book on the Parsis. There is also an entire history of printing that began in the 1850s. Another one is on the ‘history of insanity’, beginning early Renaissance till the most recent Tibetan and Gurumukhi scripts. Works from Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) and palm leaves from Anna University are also included.
The objective is to create a digital library or portal with free-to-read, searchable collection of a million books, predominantly in Indian languages. Anybody can access it on the internet.
This portal will also become an aggregator for all digital content created by other digital library initiatives in India.
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