Kerala State Central Library

184 year old Indian library goes digital, rare books including 444 year old book on Alexander the Great online

In India Online by Jayadevan P K

Kerala State Central LibraryOne of the oldest libraries in the country located in Trivandrum, the state capital of south Indian state Kerala, has digitized hundreds of rare documents and many rare books which can be accessed online.

The Kerala State Central Library, established during the days of Swathi Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore province in 1829, contains many rare books which is being digitised in phases.

An update posted on the library’s website said

During the first phase 707 rare documents (644 English and 63 Malayalam books) containing 3,28,268 pages have been digitised and a Digital archive was opened in 2006.

480 English books have been digitised and 1,84,321 pages were added to this Digital Archive during the second phase in 2010.

Some of the rarest books like “An Account of the Trade in India,” by Kockyer Charles published in 1711 and scholarly books on the ancient Vedas and Islam are available in digital form and can be accessed from anywhere.

A book called the “Righte Noble and Pleasant History of Successors of Alexander Surnamed the Great,” published in 1569 is one of the rare ones that got digitized.

If you are a history buff, or simply a curious soul, there is a treasure trove of information out there. We couldn’t wait to write about this ever since we heard about it. This is truly amazing. Not only does it give access to rare books, it gives you an insight into the working of the Travancore province through the documents of the legislative assembly from the early 20th century.

Physical access to these books are highly restricted.

Some two months ago, another rare collection of documents and letters went online. A large collection of documents and letters preserved by the British Library’s India office was digitized and hosted online in December last year. This was the first collection of World War I India office records to appear in the cyber world. According to the British Library blog, it’s got reports of the censor of Indian mails in France, letters from soldiers, treatment of British and Indian prisoners of war in Germany among other details of the first world war.

More and more libraries should do the same to truly democratise access to information.

Recommended read: Indian Sepoy (read cannon fodder) letters from the world war trenches are now online