Two Centuries of Indian Print

Women looking at ancient Bengali books laid out on a table

The British Library holds extensive collections of South Asian early printed material in the many languages of the subcontinent. In order to make these collections more accessible to researchers and the general public in India and around the world, the British Library is undertaking a major project to catalogue and digitise all its South Asian language printed books published before 1914.

The Newton-Bhabha Fund has supported the pilot phase of this project, focusing on early printed Bengali books as many are unavailable in other library collections or are extremely difficult to locate and access. The British Library team is cataloguing 3000 Bengali titles and using cataloguing metadata and digital images of the books to undertake new research using digital humanities tools and techniques. The project is also providing a programme of digital skills sharing and capacity building workshops for library professionals and archivists from cultural heritage institutions in India.

By digitising these collections to make them openly available and communicating their significance through public outreach, this project is contributing to the world’s knowledge base, and enhancing standards for cataloguing, metadata and imaging in the digital research community in the UK and India.

This collection will fundamentally alter the landscape of research.

Professor Abhijit Gupta

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2017

Two Centuries of Indian Print

Project leads: Dr Nur Sobers-Khan, British Library, UK and Co-investigators, Professor Abhijit Gupta, Jadavapur University, India and Dr Padmini Ray Murray, Sristhti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India

Project partners: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Jadavapur University and Sristhti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India

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