Background

Over 300,000 images of ancient Vaishnava manuscripts have to be captured, digitized, processed and preserved in both hard-copy and soft-copy formats. Collaborations have been established to tackle the challenges of image processing and a huge data storage (reliable and secure) system. The Center for Preservation of Ancient Manuscripts (CPAM) has been established at RIT, Rochester NY. Shri Bannanje Govindacharya has kindly agreed to lend his knowledge and expertise for this endeavor.

The Vaishnava Literature (VL) Collection

The Adyar library, Institute for Vaishnava studies & the American University microfilm collection of Vaishnava literature (VL), comprises huge collection of rare, ancient manuscripts from India dating back to the 13th century. This collection was established in the 1980s by Dr. Charles S.J. White, who is now professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at the American University. Recently (December 2006), a copy of the entire VL microfilm collection (over 100 microfilm tapes/300,000 images) was gifted by the American University to Dr. P.R.Mukund, director for the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Manuscripts (CPAM), at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), for digitization and further preservation.

Preservation

The main goals of the project are to digitally preserve and provide access to the entire VL collection through the internet. The first step towards this is to convert the microfilms to digital images. This conversion will be carried out by high-speed microfilm scanners. Once digitized, the images will undergo digital image processing, and their quality will be improved using standard and custom enhancement algorithms. The digitized manuscripts will then be categorized based on the tradition they belong to and within each tradition they will be arranged alphabetically by the name of the author. The easiest way to make this collection available worldwide is to create a digital library of the manuscripts. CPAM will provide access to its digital library of manuscripts to any individual/institution that is interested in studying these manuscripts.

Colloborations

To accomplish the above goals, the investigators have established an active collaboration with Dr.Roger Easton, imaging scientist from RITís college of imaging science. Dr. Easton has been involved in various projects preserving ancient manuscripts such as, Archimedes Palimpsest, Dead Sea scrolls and recently worked on preserving the Sarvamoola granthas with the investigators. Shri Bannanje Govindacharya has kindly agreed to lend his guidance and expertise as a consultant. The project is estimated to create a lot of data given the number of images. To solve the storage issue collaboration has been established with Indiana University (IU) at Bloomington as part of their Data Capacitor project. This collaboration ensures Terabytes of storage to house the entire digitized VL collection. CPAM also has an account on TeraGrid for moving large data sets on 10 Gb/sec data networks to and from IU. To set up the digital library portal, the investigators have contacted Professor Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon University. Digital library of India (DLI) is the brainchild of Dr.Reddy where the goal is to digitize one million books and make them available online in searchable and browse-able format. The digital library for VL collection will follow the same format as DLI and Dr. Reddy has agreed to provide required technical assistance in establishing it. Apart from the digital library, the center also aims to print the collection and house it in a library in India.