Cover Story: Digitization Preserves Rich Culture of Punjab

Cover Story: Vol. 2, Issue 1



“One of the main advantages of digitization is the ability to protect vulnerable items

within the collection from the decay and damage often caused by use.”

Ingeborg Verheul (2006)

The culture of Punjab comprises a large and dynamic diversity of heritage, as it is based on the cultures, traditions, customs and cultural expressions of the different ethnic and ethnographic communities, which have historically inhabited the country. So protecting cultural heritage is very important from economy, historical and society point of view.

Starting of initiative for digitization:

In general, Digitization is the process of converting information into electronic format. It can be done with the help of scanner and digital camera. There are many initiatives taken to digitize the heritage of the different countries worldwide level:

S. No. Title of the project Country Website
1. UNESCO Project entitled the Memory of the world Worldwide
2. Digital Library for Dutch Literature Netherlands
3. Building Virtual Research Environment for the Sphere of Historical Resources Europe
4. Pandora Web Archive Australia
5. National Mission for Manuscripts India


#Panjab Digital Library

In this regard in North India, Panjab Digital Library (PDL) is taking care of preservation and digitization of cultural heritage of region of Punjab that includes current Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh, certain areas of Rajasthan and Western Punjab which is now in Pakistan. PDL was formally started in 2003 by Mr. Harinder Singh and Mr. Davinder Pal Singh with vision to make Punjab literary works. In the year of 2009, the Library formally launched its work online whose resources are accessible electronically for all humanity worldwide.


The collection and its sources

The Panjab Digital Library includes resources from the Government Museum, Chandigarh; Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra; Beant Singh Memorial, Chandigarh; the Institute of Sikh Studies; the Department of Languages, Punjabi; Chief Khalsa Diwan; Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee; Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, Delhi; Nirmal Sanskrit Vidyala, Banaras; St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi; Punjabi Sahitya Academy, Ludhiana; and Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, Patna.

Individual collections of Dr. Man Singh Nirankari, Dr. Kirpal Singh, Dr. Harnam Singh Shan, Gurtej Singh, Anurag Singh, Dr. Gurdev Singh Sidhu, NPS Randhawa, Dalip Singh MalluNangal, Gurjeet Singh Cheema are also digitized.

Documents Digitized so far:

Panjab Digital Library has digitized over 6,513,000 folios so far which includes Manuscripts, books, newspapers, photographs, and miniatures.

 Important Assets:

1. Digitization of ‘Ghadar’ a newspaper of the revolutionaries of the Indian Independence Movement. The newspaper started its publication on 8th December 1913.

Figure 1: picture of the newspaper published on day 1


2. The Anandgarh Sahib fort was photographed in 1934. The fort seems to be in good condition at that time.

Figure 2: Anandgarh Fort at Anandpur Sahib
3. The last from the series of news on Sardar Bhagat Singh and other activities in Punjab in September 13, 1934 in the tribune.

Figure 3: News about S. Bhagat Singh in 1934 A.D. Newspaper


4. News about Bhagat Singh execution has been published in the Phulwari magazine in 1931 A.D.

Figure 4: Phulwari of March-April 1931

5. Naina Devi Mandir, photographed by Dhana Singh on 26 May, 1934

Figure 5: Photograph of Naina Devi Mandir

6. Miniature of the Sunehari Masjid, Lahore

Figure 6: Sunehari Masjid Miniature created in 1753 A.D.

7.  Frescos and wall paintings on the roof of Akal Takhat, before they were destroyed in 1984 A.D.

Figure 7: Fresco wall painting of Akal Takhat, Amritsar

8.  Punjab State Gazetteers of Phulkian States.

Figure 8: Rare books digitized related to the Phulkian States of Punjab of 1904 A.D.

9.  PDL has digitized 200 year old Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They have more than 70 different textures, designs and decorations on this scripture.

Figure 9: 18th century manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib. The manuscript was recently digitized from Patna Sahib, Bihar.

Figure 10: opening page of 19th century Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

In the Indian scenario the texture and decorative art is very rich and established in the past so the with text of source or manuscript, it is really important to preserve and digitize the texture of the document also.

Futuristic Plans:

  1. To set up a digital Library in the every college in the region of Punjab.
  2. 3D image building of 93 Forts of Punjab which are nearer to damage.

So the Panjab Digital Library has done commendable job in preserving, digitizing and make it accessible electronically to the society for future.

Further Information:

  1. The Panjab Digital Library (PDL):
  2. Verheul, Ingeborg (2006). Networking for Digital Preservation: current practice in 15 National Libraries. Munchen: K. G. Saur (IFLA publications)



Posted in Non-Fiction.


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