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A Mystery Waiting to be Unbundled :: Panjab Digital Library and Preservation through Digitization of Punjab and Sikh History and Heritage
Panjab Digital Library and Preservation through Digitization of Punjab and Sikh History and Heritage
A Mystery Waiting to be Unbundled

The executive director of PDL and I headed out to pay one of our regular visits to S. Gurdev Singh, a former Chairperson of the Punjab School Education Board. While waiting at the front door, I noticed a large pile of books on the staircase. They were bundled and caked in dust; most of the books had soft bindings and the paper had become brittle; the titles on the spines were written in Urdu. Though personally I have little knowledge of the language, I was intrigued because Urdu was the medium of instruction in most of the schools pre-partition and many generations completed their schooling in Urdu.

As you can assume, these books had caught my attention and I became even more curious when Gurdev Singh ji told me that even he could not read Urdu. Why then had he held onto these books for so long that he couldn't read, I wondered?

During his work for the Punjab School Education Board, S. Gurdev Singh, on an inspection of a school in Banga, came across these books which were slated for sale because there was no room to store them. Instead, they came home with him. He had held on to the books for years, believing that there was a reader out there who would need them one day, but so much time had passed and now he was in the process of renovating his own home, so the time had come to let the books go.

Frustrated that he had never been able to find the right audience, he had approached us at Panjab Digital Library and we happily accepted the texts. It's always better to become a donor rather than a disposer!

Today, the books have all been unbundled, carefully dusted, and scanned. They still lie in wait for the right readers, but the chances of finding them have increased exponentially now that they have been given the archivists treatment! And most importantly, because they've been digitized they can reach out to readers all over the world.
It is thanks to so many custodians, those who knew it was worth holding on to a book for another year, or another decade even, that we at PDL were able to take those books and preserve them in our archives for anyone, anywhere in the world, will soon be able to take a peek at the unbundled mysteries of the Urdu books published before the partition of Panjab.

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Revealing the Invisible Heritage of Panjab