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Dissertation Information for Donald C. Johnson

- Donald C. Johnson

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA) (1980)

- William Landram Williamson

- [Indecipherable1]
- [Indecipherable2]
- John Jorg Boll
- Charles A. Bunge

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Government concern for the development of libraries: Sanskrit manuscript libraries in India, 1858-1937

Abstract: During the latter part of the nineteenth century the Government of India inaugurated a determined effort to rescue Sanskrit manuscripts from neglect and destruction. In contrast to the circumstances in many other imperial settings where the remains of ancient cultures were transported to institutions in the West, the Sanskrit manuscripts remained in India. Consequently, new institutions came into being to house them and to make them available to scholars. Symbolizing the beginning of this development is an 1868 order of the Government of India allocating 24,000 rupees to be used annually to collect and to preserve Sanskrit manuscripts. Investigation of the background of the order and of subsequent collecting efforts form the basis of this study. Five factors that influenced Government to issue the order were identified.

First, Sanskrit was a scholarly language that greatly influenced the development of nineteenth century linguistics. Hence the language was studied not merely in India. Since most Sanskrit literature was preserved only in manuscripts, copies of works were limited and access to needed works required extensive bibliographic listing. Second, the East India Company had fostered a policy that encouraged its staff to learn as much as possible about India. Third, a fundamental assumption of the East India Company that administration of India was a trust meant the country was not to be depleted of its cultural heritage. Fourth, in the wake of the Mutiny Government began to monitor the press and to require deposit of all publications in an effort to prevent future civil disturbances. Fifth, the Government of India wished to be seen as a patron of Indian culture.

Missing from the order was any indication that libraries were expected to result. The Government of India funded the program but assigned actual collection and preservation to provincial governments. The varying levels of library development in the three presidencies of Bengal, Bombay, and Madras became apparent in the implementation of the order.

The Government of Bengal, recognizing the extensive work of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for almost a century to develop a library on India, asked the society to undertake the searches. The society quickly blended the work into its own programs and only acquired titles unique to its library. In contrast Bombay had no focal library. Awareness of the lack of manuscripts for scholarly research prompted the Bombay government to sponsor two search trips for manuscripts previous to the Government of India order. The lack of a central library delayed the transformation of the collected manuscripts into a functioning library. The Government of Madras had decided to form a public manuscript library within the presidency before the Government of India order. Initial work dealt with creating such a library from existing government holdings of manuscripts. Searches in the districts started much later in Madras than elsewhere.

Although the manuscripts remained in India, western scholarship benefited from the searches. Manuscripts were lent to scholars in the west, copies were made when requested, and assistance given to western libraries to acquire works if they were already held in an Indian library.

The reasons for the development of manuscript research libraries in India after the issuance of the order were: (1) the time was ripe for the development of libraries; (2) realistic goals were established in the presidencies for the manuscripts; (3) dynamic individuals skillfully utilized the provisions of the order to develop libraries; (4) the programs of government were relevant to research needs in India. Three world-famous manuscript libraries developed: the Asiatic Society of Bengal Library (Calcutta), the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Poona), and the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library (Madras).

MPACT Scores for Donald C. Johnson

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-07-25 20:35:10

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