Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gnanalaya Research Library

Via The Hindu

When a book is opened, time stands still for a special man as the moment is sheer magic for him. Magic that continues to tie B. Krishnamurthy to his books.

Bibliophile Krishnamurthy is the proud possessor of 70,000 titles. His ‘Gnanalaya' Research Library at Tirukokarnam near Pudukottai is easily one of the biggest private libraries in the country. The USP of his library is the wide collection of priceless first editions in Tamil.

“First editions are always special. Often, subsequent editions are shorn off the preface, foreword and valuable introduction that the author may have written. These provide a rare insight into the life and times of the author, the social and historical context which can enhance research.”

His veritable treasure trove is a sanctuary for researchers who flock from India and abroad. “My wife Dorothy and I have met almost all major Tamil writers. We have been able to add valuable inputs to any research as we know the thinking process of the author and what you may call as the other side of the story. In that way, I am happy we can enhance research,” he smiles genially.

Treasured among his stack are letters of Rajaji and Bharathiyar' s daughter Thangammal Bharathi's first editions of Bharathi and Bharathidasan, early issues of revolutionary magazines like ‘Kudiarasu', ‘ Viduthalai' and Gandhi's Harijan, back issues of the Reader's Digest right from the first Indian edition and 1,500 Tamil literary magazines from 1920 to 2010.

“From Bharathiyar to Sujatha, the literary careers of writers took off in these little literary magazines. But today commercial magazines have taken over and these literary magazines have very poor subscription,” he says wistfully.

He has come up with an innovative way to record the legacy he owns. “Today my memory is pretty good, but soon age would get the better of me. I may not be able to locate books easily. So, I am currently recording an oral history of all the books in the library. Each shelf would have a recorder that would narrate the contents of the rack for better reference.”
Read the entire article here.

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