Digitizing its 6,300-strong collection of books of historical importance, the Sikh history research library at Khalsa College has become an epicenter of notable information archives of not just Sikh history but significant political, social and cultural events of the nation. Established in 1930, the library has been consistently preserving its valuable literature, which includes some rarest of rare manuscripts in Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi. It managed to digitalise manuscripts of “Nanak Prakash”, a biographical account of Guru Nanak Dev and “Parmarth Sukhmani Sahasar Nama” written in 1646 AD. It also has historic editions of newspapers, journals and handwritten notes in Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit.
With all the exclusive literature, it makes for a favorite reference point for history buffs and people documenting historical events. “Apart from our students, we have a good footfall of researchers, documentarians, writers and the general public. Digitization has further made it easy for us to access the information and share it with them,” says Dr. Inderjit Singh Gagoani, in charge, Sikh history research library and department.
With 601 manuscripts including Punjabi translations of Ramayana, the library is the only one in the city to have carried out a restoration and digitization process that took one year to complete. “The books we had were in a delicate condition, as some dated back to 200 years. First edition newspapers, including that of The Tribune’s first print, books and lithographs that date back to the sixteenth century and can be found nowhere in the country have been preserved in our library. Therefore, we took our time to preserving them,” says Gagoani. The college’s library stands out for its rich literature, but also the consistent footfall.
Owing to the popularity among researchers, the library is planning to expand its collection and storage. “We are in process of building a separate department where more books and material will be added. We have been sourcing out significant documents related to Sikh history from private collectors, contributors or whoever wants to donate to the library’s collection. There are many readers also, who take interest in maintaining the collection of books here,” says Gagoani.