Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Indian Library Review is being launched by the National Library, Kolkata, to serve the interests of Indian libraries and librarians. It is also designed to address the broader audience of policy makers and users as also information specialists, scholars and book-lovers. The idea of an electronic digest of library news was proposed by Professor Supriya Chaudhuri at a meeting of the Advisory Board of the library in August 2011. The National Library does not have in-house staff to look after IT operations: the National Informatics Centre and its corporate wing NICSI provide some hand-holding support. However, we are grateful to Dr Souvik Mukherjee of IIT, Delhi, Dr Soumitra Sarkar, University Librarian, Calcutta University, and Dr Arun Chakraborty, Bose Institute, Kolkata, for assisting Sri S. Siva Prasad, Assistant Library and Information Officer at the National Library, for creating the Review. Sri A. R. Bandyopadhyay, Chairperson of the Board, and Sri Jawhar Sircar, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Culture, have provided support and advice. We hope that the Review will serve as a platform that will bring the community of librarians, users and policy-makers together, in addition to providing links to relevant news, events, reports, conferences, training workshops, exhibitions and cultural exchanges.

Swapan Chakravorty
Director General
National Library

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

NL News

The National Library observed the National Book Week from 14.11.13 to 20.11.13. The National Book Week concluded on 20.11.13 with a programme where veteran readers of National Library who are still availing reader services of Library were honoured for their long association and continued relationship with National Library as a Reader. Ms. Leena Mitford, Lead curator, South Asian Studies, British library was invited as Guest of honour and Shri Arun Ghosh, Ex-Librarian, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata presided over the function.
P.Y. Rajendra Kumar
Director General

Lecture on Tagore by Professor Sudhir Kakar
Professor Sudhir Kakar, the eminent psychoanalyst and writer, spoke on ‘Young Tagore : A Psychological Portrait’ on 31 January 2013 at 3.30 pm at the Conference Hall, Bhasha Bhavan.

First Public Lecture by Sri Anjan Sen
Sri Anjan Sen, Tagore National Scholar for Cultural Research at the National Library, delivered his first public lecture on ‘Medieval Manuscripts Cover Paintings of Bengal: impact of Chaitanya Deva’ on 22 January 2013 at 3.30pm at the Conference hall, Bhasha Bhavan.

Celebrating the Asian Neighbourhood
A day-long programme of events was held on 12 January 2013 from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm in collaboration with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies, Oxford University Press, School of Media, Communication and Culture of Jadavpur University and INTACH at the Exhibition Gallery, Bhasha Bhavan. The events were held in course of the Kolkata Literary Festival. The programme was inaugurated by Sri Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal, in the presence of Professor Sugata Bose of Harvard University, and Dr Sreeradha Dutta, Director, MAKAIAS. The themes included ‘Sunil Janah, Photography Pioneer : A Tribute’, ‘Image, Identity, Literature and the Asian Women’, ‘Media for Change: The Asian Neighbourhood’ and ‘Laughing Matter: Bengal Political Cartoons from Both Sides of the Border: Interrogating the Nation State’. The day-long programme was followed by a lecture on ’What Kind of Asian was Gandhi?’ by Professor Ramachandra Guha on the steps of the Belvedere House. The lecture was followed by a public conversation on the subject between Professor Guha and the Director Genral.

Second Public Lecture by Professor Gautam Bhadra
The second public lecture by Professor Gautam Bhadra, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research at the National Library, was delivered on 21 December 2012 at 3.30 pm at the Conference Hall, Bhasha Bhavan. Professor Bhadra spoke on ‘Jogesh Chandra Ray Vidyanidhi and His Vision of Indian Astronomy and Indigenous Almanacs’.

Lecture on Charles Dickens
A lecture on ‘Dickens and the Popular Imagination’ was delivered by Dr Paul Schlicke, formerly of the School of Language and Literature, University of Aberdeen, on 17 December 2012 at 3.30 pm at the Conference Hall, Bhasha Bhavan. The lecture was organized to mark the bicentenary of the novelist in 2012.
On 9 January 2012, Professor Randall McLeod, formerly of the University of Toronto, spoke on manual book production and textual studies in an illustrated talk titled 'Hammered'. Professor McLeod is a noted textual scholar, and inventor of the McLeod Portable Collator, a stereoscopic device for comparing texts as images that has been acquired by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London, the National Library of Wales, New York Public Library and Pierpont Morgan Library.

On 11 January 2012, advance copies of the book Nameless Recognition: The Impact of Rabindranath Tagore on Other Indian Literatures were presented to members of the Advisory Board. The volume, edited by Swapan Chakravorty, collects papers read at a national seminar held at the library in January 2011.

On 24 January 2012, Anne Bancroft ACR, Senior Book and Paper Conservator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, will speak on 'Book Conservation Case Studies: Leather Binding, a Chinese and European Illuminated Manuscript' and 'Book Conservation, Display, Access and Handling at the Victoria and Albert Museum’ at the Conference Hall, Bhasha Bhavan. She will also visit the Reprography and Laboratory Divisions of the library.

On 27 January 2012, Professor Satiprasad Maiti, Head of the Department of English, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, will speak on Swami Vivekananda to students of New Alipur Multipurpose School for Boys at the Children's Library.

On 24 February 2012, a seminar will be held at the National Library to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of Calcutta Public Library. Sri P. T. Nair, eminent historian of Kolkata and of the library, Sri Arun Ghosh, former librarian of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, and Professor Aloke Ray, eminent scholar of nineteenth-century Bengal, will speak. A souvenir will be published on the occasion

Bimal Mitra (1912-91)
On 21 August 2012: An exhibition on the life and works of the Bengali novelist Bimal Mitra was inaugurated on 21 August 2012 at 5 p.m. at the Art Gallery, Bhasha Bhavan, by the Hon’ble Chittatosh Mukherjee, former Chief Justice of Calcutta and Bombay High Courts. The exhibition was organized in collaboration with Bimal Mitra Academy, Kolkata, to observe the birth centenary of the popular writer who spent a substantial part of his day at the National Library reading and researching for his fiction. The exhibition displayed books, translations of his works in various languages, manuscripts, rare photographs, lists of films and plays in different languages based on his works, and a suite of paintings based on moments in his novels. The exhibition remained open for public viewing from 21 August to 26 August 2012. At the inauguration Dr Shankar Ghosh, Sri Sabitendranath Ray and Sri Swapan Moitra spoke on the author, while an aural performance of the play ‘America’ based on Mitra’s story was staged by the theatrical troupe Sangbarta. This was followed by songs rendered by Munmun Ghosh, Laboni Lahiri and Sanjukta Bhattacharya.

Library digitisation enters third phase

Between the Lines

Kolkata scholars to get access to British Library's Bengali shelf

14th century manuscripts restored

Rare Glimpses of a Remarkable Mind 

National Library turns over a digital leaf

Copyright as cultural notion

National Library to showcase some rare Tagore exhibits 

Sunday, 8 January 2012


IDRC Research Awards

The application process for the September 12, 2012 competition is currently under review. Candidates can look at the positions offered for the 2013 internships and start preparing their research proposal, but must wait for the revised application form before applying. Final instructions on required documents, criteria, and application process will be available by July 31, 2012

Digitization Project

The Minister for Culture and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja has said that digitization of rare books and other print material is done selectively taking into account copyright and other issues. It is a part of the Annual Action Plan of the National Library, Kolkata. No article from the rare books division of the National Library has been reported to be lost or stolen in the last decade.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today she said, under the 3rd phase of digitisation project 20,00,000 pages i.e. 6000 books are envisaged to be digitised at a cost of about Rs. 35 lakhs in next seven months. She said, the National Library has been accorded special status of an institution of national importance in the Article 62 in the Seventh Schedule of the Union List of the Constitution of India. There is no other National Library in the country. Recently, steps have been taken to improve the functioning of National Library, Kolkata. They include access to full text electronic journals, availability of library’s catalogue on the web and high speed internet connectivity for the readers. Some new proposals are under consideration in the 12th Five Year Plan.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Copyright as a Cultural Notion

Jawhar Sircar
That book history is gradually coming of age becomes evident when the National Library organises the first BS Kesavan Lecture on this subject that few were aware of even a decade ago. The lecture on Saturday at Bhasha Bhavan on the library premises in the memory of the first National Librarian after Independence was by A.R. Venkatachalapathy of the Madras Institute of Development Studies on the “Cultures of Copyright.”
Presiding over the event, Jawhar Sircar, secretary, ministry of culture, asked the rhetorical question: “Where are the Kesavans of today”, as there is a dearth of librarians and archivists in this country, and the system is on the point of collapse. But he had no ready solutions to this problem. Swapan Chakravorty, director-general, National Library, introduced those present, including Mukul Kesavan.

Venkatachalapathy, in a blue silk shirt and veshthi, said his contention was that although copyright is a legal notion, in India it was more of a moral and cultural notion. He began his lecture saying in the beginning he was critical of BS Kesavan’s publications, History of Printing and Publishing in India and The Book In India: A Compilation, and of Sisir Kumar Das’s book as well. But it later changed to appreciation as he realised how difficult it was to write history.

In the past 10 to 15 years there has been an “efflorescence” of interest in book history but the field is “barely scratched”. Venkatachalapathy related a humorous story of the medieval Tamil poet, Kambar, who authored the Tamil Ramayan. He was delighted to be present at a literary discourse on his work. But he soon realised that the verses being recited were not his own. “Every aspect of copyright was being violated by interpolation,” he commented.

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