Comprised of around 20 staff members, rare and books of historical significance are preserved including Goan history books, old newspapers and magazines.
Since the process of preservation began in November 2013, the team has completed preservation of 12,138 pages that correspond to 257 books. These primarily include books from the rare Goa history book section.
Speaking to ‘The Goan’, library officials said their first priority was to finish preservation of books from the Portuguese era. “Currently there are over 6,000 books in the Goan history section that were brought to the State by the Portuguese. These books have no reprints and are the only proof we have of them, which makes it important to preserve,” said the section in-charge.
Apart from the rare books section, other documents that will be preserved include bound newspapers and published journals, ecclesiastical documents and history, official correspondence and documents and books published in government gazette series III since 1974.
In a lab in the library complex, trained officials work with fragile pages as they work to preserve the book, page by page. The process begins with a list of books that are in immediate need of preservation. Once this list is ready, each page of the book is scanned before the chemical process is done.
The first step in the chemical process of preservation is de-acidification, where a page is placed on a sheet of special Japanese made melanese paper. It is then washed with distilled water to remove the dust and then with lime water solution for two minutes. It is then left to dry on blotting paper.
A thick layer of carboxy methyl cellulose paste is put on a flat surface over which a 4 gsm sized terracotta tissue is placed. The page to be preserved is then placed on the tissue lined with the paste and the melanese paper is removed.
A special guarding paper brought from Arunachal Pradesh is applied to one long side of the page to help in enlarging the page. This step comes in handy when the book is rebound. Another layer of maida paste is put on the page over which the 4 gsm cloth is placed and left to dry.
Once dried, the pages are cut according to size and bound into a book. Based on the popularity of the book, copies are printed of the digital scans and lent to those that require them.
The first book the library preserved was a 150 page document titled Unta De Investigacces Do Ultrama Estudos, Ensaiol E Documentas N:37. After the Portuguese era books have been preserved, officials at the rare section and preservation facility say their aim will be to preserve gazettes, magazines and newspapers.
“Old magazines and newspapers also contain rich information on happenings in the State. Getting reprints of these over time will also be a problem. Therefore, preserving them becomes very important,” said the official.