Two Rare Collections for Chennai’s State Library

Via The Hindu

The home of the new State Library is fast coming up on Gandhi Mandapam Road, I recently noticed, and I mused to myself that the enormous task of moving collections into it should commence not too long in the future. From what I have been able to gather, the entire collection of the Connemara Public Library plus those of several other State Government departmental libraries are likely to find a home here.

Among the Connemara Library’s Collection is the Maraimalai Adigal Library’s holdings that were gifted to it in 2008, almost to the day of the Golden Jubilee of the latter. When Maraimalai Adigal passed away on September 15, 1951, his 4000-book collection of Tamil books passed into the hands of the Saiva Siddhantha Works Publishing Society to whom he had bequeathed them, and the Society, with this nucleus, opened the Maraimalai Adigal Library on August 24, 1958, in a historic building in Linghi Chetty Street, with which Ramalinga Vallalar had been associated. Over the years the library grew, it had 35,000 books, rare manuscripts and journals. At the time the Society was no longer able to maintain it and handed it over to the Connemara Library.

Apart from the Maraimalai Adigal Library collection, another collection headed for the State Library will be the collection of Kasi Viswanathan Chettiar of Paganeri in Sivaganga District which he had donated to the local government authority in 1986, shortly before his death. This classical collection is now the core holding of the library in the village and is widely used by the residents of the area. If moved to Madras, the village will be deprived of a treasure. The answer is to preserve the well cared for holding in Paganeri but have the State Library digitise it bit by bit for electronic storage in Madras. That would be the way to go for numerous other such cared for collections in the State.

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