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Reflecting on PDL's Past, Looking to PDL's Future
Reflecting on PDL's Past, Looking to PDL's Future

An open letter from Davinder Pal Singh, Executive Director

In 2003, a few Panjabis decided to dedicate their time, energy and enthusiasm to preservation, so that future generations would have the capability of staying connected to their roots. With this commitment, they launched a project - the first of its kind in South Asia - to digitize rare heritage materials from the Panjab region.

The self-funded project at that time started from a single room with single desktop computer, a single camera and a single volunteer. That same humble project today, has grown to a fulltime staff of 28 employees and 40 volunteers. To date, they have digitized over 6.5 million pages and launched the first digital library of South Asia, which is provides free access to centuries-old manuscripts, creative literature and other streams of the proud Panjabi intellectual tradition.

Additionally, as the organization has begun to soar, Panjabis have started to contribute to our success through gifts of manuscripts, books, and photos. This has resulted in building a huge archive of original manuscripts, books, magazines, newspapers.

Over the period of time PDL has realized that the effort needs to be institutionalized at the next level to ensure continued success in the coming years. In the long run, the truth is that it will be difficult to survive on donations and irregular funds. Moreover, the experience of PDL needs to be replicated by others, to secure the heritage to maximum extent. PDL also feels a serious need to have a preservation lab and develop a small gallery to motivate the next generation to preserve their Panjabi roots.

In response to this realization, PDL is constructing a permanent facility of 5,000 sq. ft at Plot #1 Sector 28A Chandigarh - a project which is budgeted at around $400,000. To date, we already have commitments for $100,000, but we need to get to the next stage of funding.

This facility will allow our employees and volunteers to further facilitate digitization and supporting activities to make this resource accessible and secure. Academic training in the area of heritage preservation has for too long been an ignored subject in our part of the world. That is why we know that PDL can't wait. We must take the first steps of serious commitment, and we hope you are behind us.

You have been instrumental in taking PDL from a single room service to global presence. Now we turn to you again to make it a sustainable organization. Your gift will "reveal the invisible heritage of Panjab" for decades to come. A lot has already been lost, this is the unfortunate truth, but we can't let it stop us in our track. YOU can help preserve what remains.

All donations will be acknowledged in the main museum area being developed, so you can show your friends, family, your children and their children that in 2012, you made a choice to help preserve the past for the benefit of the future.

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Revealing the Invisible Heritage of Panjab