Proposed library in Madurai to house artefacts, manuscripts
CHENNAI: A massive library to house Tamil books and artefacts, including ancient palm leaf manuscripts, will come up in the heart of Madurai city in the proposed Tamil Sangam complex. A total of 14.5 acres had been identified to house the Madurai Tamil Sangam. The premises will also hold the library and the entire project is expected to cost Rs 25 crore. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who announced the project in the state assembly two years ago, will choose a design for the building soon. The new library is likely to be thrown open to the public within 18 months.
A government order was issued on July 12 and the department of Tamil culture began to earnestly work on the library project. "A piece of land was identified at Thallakulam near the Gandhi Museum in the heart of Madurai city. We now have three designs and the chief minister has to choose one of them after which construction work will begin," said an official, seeking anonymity.
The Madurai Tamil Sangam, which was started in 1982 soon after the World Tamil Conference, will now be a separate entity and registered under the Societies Act. "The sangam will also function from the new building and all the activities of the sangam like seminars, discussions and research activities will be held," the official said. The Sangam will occupy a small portion of the complex.
The main aim of creating such a huge library is to bring all the Tamil manuscripts and books from museums and private collections across the world under one roof. "We plan to source all the ancient palm leaf manuscripts belonging to Sangam age and later periods and digitise it. We have also instructed all publishers to send copies of new book releases to the library as they do for the Central Library here," said the official. There are around 1 lakh palm leaf manuscripts of which only 25% have been deciphered, he said.
Researchers from across the world can stay in the hostel adjoining the library and pursue research. "The thesis and other research works of various Tamil scholars across the world will be sourced from various universities and will be preserved for use by researchers," he said. Apart from the library and hostel, the building will also house open-air and indoor auditoriums. The open auditorium will have graphics and portraits, describing ancient Tamil culture. The indoor auditorium will be used by researchers and scholars for debates and discussions, the official said.
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