Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Indian Institute of Astrophysics

This is a new research project for me, and it's taking me to new places, namely, Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. I'm here looking for items related to the Madras and Kodaikanal Observatories. I spend most of my day at the IIA Library and the IIA Archives. The staff has been friendly and helpful, and I'm gathering all sorts of useful bits. Access to the IIA didn't seem complicated compared to what I had to deal with even a few years ago, so I'm finding this a pretty low stress research trip. It's easy to order photocopies, it's easy to order books, and I've been allowed to transcribe some of Pogson's observing logs.

IIA Access Policy

List of Items Available in the IIA Archives

The library is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Wifi is available on campus.
 

The IIA is also in charge of the Kodaikanal Observatory. The librarian at IIA has been very generous with her time (she's in the midst of retiring) and has introduced me to a few of the research scientists and administrators here. One result of all this care is that arranging a research visit to Kodai has been a piece of cake. I was worried about accommodations, but it been determined that I qualify to stay at the observatory guest house. Exciting!

Nuts & Bolts

Accommodations:
This is getting easier by the month. I actually used airbnb to find a place this visit. It's not necessarily easy finding a place close to IIA this way, but public transportation is reliable and the library doesn't open until mid-morning, so you have time to travel to Koramanagala.

Getting there:
I'm staying in HSR Layout / Sector 6. It's not too difficult getting an autorickshaw when I need one, but I usually take the AC bus. KIA-7 is a bus that conveniently runs along Sarjapura Road by IIA on the way to the airport. If you need a landmark for an auto or taxi driver, St. John's Medical College Hospital on Sarjapura Road is your best best. The main gate to IAA is on 100 Feet Road, which is off Sarjapura. It's also not too far to walk from Hosur Road if you get off the auto somewhere near the Madiwalla underpass. The best landmark there is actually FabIndia, just up 100 Feet Road from Hosur Road. I've taken several more buses (non-AC) in Bangalore than I would have in Delhi -- it's easier and generally feels safer.

Dining: 
There's a decent canteen on the main campus, costs 30 r. or something like that for a meal. If you must get out for some air, go out to 100 Feet Rd., cross Sarjapura, and in about 3 blocks you will find a Cafe Coffee Day, around 7th Cross Road. There are some sweets shops down that way, too. On the weekend, there's this place called Brahmin's in Basavanagudi that has the world's best idli. Trust me on this one. Less than 100 r. for two lovely plates of food.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Library of the Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP), Pondicherry, India

If you can't travel to Pondichéry for research (or if you want to prepare for your visit), check out the digital archive of periodicals from French India (1800-1923) via the British Library. Digitized as part of the Endangered Archives Programme, this archive includes 179 volumes (131,656 images) of French colonial publications.

Read more about the material here (descriptions of all the periodicals).

This link should take you directly to the catalogue.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Persian Manuscripts at the British Library

This post is meant to update the information I posted a few years ago about Persian manuscripts in the British Library. Since I completed my dissertation, the BL has embraced a Persian manuscript digitization project. For an overview of the project and a list of the digitized manuscripts, go to http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/persian.html.

The British Library is currently engaged in a program to enable digital access to the Persian collections and has now reached the end of the second year of a planned three-year partnership project with the Iran Heritage Foundation and other supporters. The project involves creating catalogue records for manuscripts which are uncatalogued, standardizing the existing print records and creating digital files to make them available online. At the same time we aim to digitise 50 of the most significant manuscripts within the three year period. By the end of the initial three-year partnership, records of nearly all acquisitions made after 1903 will be available online. Currently, details of over 2,500 works are searchable on Fihrist, a union catalogue of some of the major Arabic script manuscript collections in the UK, and will also be available within the Library's own manuscripts' catalogue. - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/persian.html#sthash.seXivBPV.dpuf

The British Library is currently engaged in a program to enable digital access to the Persian collections and has now reached the end of the second year of a planned three-year partnership project with the Iran Heritage Foundation and other supporters. The project involves creating catalogue records for manuscripts which are uncatalogued, standardizing the existing print records and creating digital files to make them available online. At the same time we aim to digitise 50 of the most significant manuscripts within the three year period. By the end of the initial three-year partnership, records of nearly all acquisitions made after 1903 will be available online. Currently, details of over 2,500 works are searchable on Fihrist, a union catalogue of some of the major Arabic script manuscript collections in the UK, and will also be available within the Library's own manuscripts' catalogue - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/persian.html#sthash.seXivBPV.dpuf
The British Library is currently engaged in a program to enable digital access to the Persian collections and has now reached the end of the second year of a planned three-year partnership project with the Iran Heritage Foundation and other supporters. The project involves creating catalogue records for manuscripts which are uncatalogued, standardizing the existing print records and creating digital files to make them available online. At the same time we aim to digitise 50 of the most significant manuscripts within the three year period. By the end of the initial three-year partnership, records of nearly all acquisitions made after 1903 will be available online. Currently, details of over 2,500 works are searchable on Fihrist, a union catalogue of some of the major Arabic script manuscript collections in the UK, and will also be available within the Library's own manuscripts' catalogue. - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/persian.html#sthash.seXivBPV.dpuf

Resource: Mewar Ramayana Online

Thanks to the sponsorship of the Jamsetji Tata Trust, the World Collections Programme, and the Friends of the British Library, you can now read an eighteenth-century version of the Ramayana online. The so-called Mewar Ramayana was commissioned by Maharana Jagat Singh II (r. 1734 - 1754) of Udaipur. Pieces of the manuscript arrived in Europe via James Tod, while other pieces remained in India and circulated through private collections.The manuscript has now been reunified through a massive digitization project.

The file is quite large and takes some time to load (it took more than twenty minutes to load and process it on my office computer). But it is so awesome. The British Library's "Turning the Pages" feature lets you flip the pages upward (rather than left-to-right, right-to-left), so you can experience it as it was meant to be read. 

The digital manuscript is accompanied by with a pop-up box of English-language guidance. 

Click on the image below to see the manuscript.

http://www.bl.uk/ramayana