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View all Manuscripts
The PDL collection includes manuscripts dated from the early fifteenth century, with varying subjects that include theology, history, philosophy, medicine, dictionaries, etc... The genre includes texts in Gurmukhi, Sharda, Devnagri, Panjabi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi scripts and languages.

Manuscripts at a glace
The term 'manuscript' is derived from the Latin manu scriptus, which mean 'hand written'. The term may also be used for text written in other ways such as chiseling or scratching with a pointed devise over a recording surface. In the modern context, manuscript also refers to a hand written text submitted to a printer for publication.

In earlier times, all recordable text knowledge was in the literal manuscript form, due to the non existence of modern print technology. Even when the printing became available later, manuscript was the still favored form in South Asia, as the printing often remained a prohibitively expensive affair. This kept the majority of the scribes at bay, and manuscripts remained in vogue until the late nineteenth century, when typewriters came onto the public scene.

Information has traveled through human generations in various forms over the centuries. Initially all the information was passed on orally, which later took the shape of the scribal tradition of hand written recordings. Print technology took over from the manuscripts, allowing for mass-scale distribution, eventually evolving in to the electronic medium that has revolutionized and come to define the modern age of communication and transmission.

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Manuscript writing was a laborious and time consuming task that would take months or sometimes years to complete. Some manuscripts were considered especially valuable because of the addition of illustrations. The pages were usually embellished with colorful works, which could contain enriched depictions, multi-inked decorated borders, boldly written, brightly colored lettering or the insertion of full-page images. Since the creation of these pieces of art was a task requiring indulgence great deal of skill and labor, illuminated pages also show a considerable emotional relationship between such work and the scribe.

Due to high cost of paper and ink most of the manuscripts, in south Asia, were written without spaces between the words where the script allowed such arrangement. This makes the reading of such material quite difficult for a novice. Manuscripts are defined by the inscription technique as explained above, and not by their content, which may variously contain text, graphics, maps, figures, illustrations, etc... Manuscripts may be in the form of loose pages tied together, bound or in codex format. The study of the writing in manuscripts is termed paleography and the study of manuscripts themselves manuscriptology.

Manuscripts, like any other treasure of literature, are the mirror of that age. More so, as they include pieces of history beyond a plain pattern of printed text. Manuscripts are livelier than any other piece of written literature and art. They give us a wide glimpse into their age of inscription, encompassing the culture, history, art, script, calligraphy, language, social, political and economic states of the time. They are also indirect records of the state of technology, paper quality, ink, embellishment, binding material and techniques popular and available and the time, and give us an inside view of the stages of development and advancements in the thought and literature in their particular epoch. Such a rich repository of the past definitely deserves a well defined policy and practice of handling and preservation in order to prolong their viability as long as possible.

Need for Digitization
Like any materials, manuscripts are prone to ageing and deterioration. Most of the manuscripts are paper based, which has a naturally limited life despite preservation practices. Manuscripts are affected by myriad factors such as time, weather, temperature, humidity, fire, water, insects, bugs and human negligence or destruction.. Although the exact spirit and techniques of the originals cannot be genuinely replicated in physical form, the information contained in the form of text and graphics can be preserved in the digital form. The practice of digitization transforms the physical analog data into a virtual digital equivalent of the same that can be displayed on a computer screen or reproduced on any other physical material through printing. This allows for the information contained in a manuscript to survive long after the original is gone, while also increasing the ways in which anyone can access and utilize that information. This is where the digitization has the most important role to play.

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