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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Salar Jung Museum Library to be digitized

By Ibrahim Usmani

Salar Jung Museum LibraryHyderabad: It will be possible soon to access the rich collection of the library of India’s famous Salar Jung Museum, from the comfort of one’s drawing room. This has become possible with the project of converting all the museum’s books into digital format.

Six scanners and twenty computers have been installed to store the pages in digital format.

The museum has over 40,000 printed books in English, 900 each in Hindi and Telugu, 11000 in Urdu, 3,400 in Persian, 2300 in Arabic and 160 in Turkish. Besides, it has about 9000 manuscripts.

D. Raj Reddy, chairman IIT, formally inaugurated the project on 12 January. This is a part of the Digital Library of India project to digitize one million books by 2007. The project is in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. One million books in Indian language would be put on the web so that these may be accessed by anyone, anywhere,

It would take at least one and a half-years to digitize all the museum books. About 60 to 100 books would be scanned daily. Not just books, even art objects in the museum would be digitized. "Anyone will be able to take a virtual tour of the museum," Dr. Raj Reddy said.

Meanwhile, the museum authorities are seriously considering allowing visitors to carry cameras inside the museum. This follows the decision already taken by the the New Delhi-based National Museum to allow visitors to photograph the exhibits. The Salar Jung Museum will, however, place the proposal before the museum board. AP Governor Sushil Kumar Shinde, who is the Board’s ex-officio chairman, will have to take a decision and it will be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Culture.

The museum authorities are by and large in favour of allowing cameras into the museum as it would fulfill a long demand besides adding to the revenue of the museum. About 5000 persons on an average visit the museum daily and during holidays this figure crosses 10000. Visitors from all over the world come here and feel deprived when they are not allowed to carry cameras inside.

However, it is feared that too much use of camera flash light could prove hazardous to paintings and miniatures. But there would be no problem with other objects. From security point of view too there would be no problems.

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