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Repository of Knowledge

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The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova with a team from UNESCO examines the Ola Leaf books in the security section of the  University Library and on the far end is Dr. Rasiah Maheswaran.


The oldest Mahawansa has been found at the 100-year-old Library of the University of Peradeniya by the Committee to be recommended to UNESCO to be declared as a ‘Heritage’ This follows former President Maithripala  Sirisena’s request made at the Aluvihare Rock Temple that the “Mahawamsa’’ should be declared as a heritage by UNESCO.


On February 23rd  the Logo was unveiled by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya, Professor Uplul  Dissanayake  at the five-storey Library building  under the theme, “The unpatrolled Repository of Knowledge at the Centre of Excellence in  -- past and present’’.
It was no easy task and a Committee was appointed to find the oldest Mahawamsa in the country for its declaration and the Committee had travelled across the country in search of the Oldest Mahawansa and it was found at the University of Peradeniya Library only two weeks ago.

 

"This libary possesses the literary evidence of the Society to trace the cultural legacy of Sri Lanka on the palm leaf collection of the country.  This library holds the second-largest collection and it is the largest collection in any other university library."

 

According to the Chief Librarian Dr. Rasiah Mahasweran, the Committee had come to the University of Peradeniya Library and found the Ola Manuscript in two volumes.  This was recommended to UNESCO for the declaration as a ‘Heritage’ according to the concept of the former President.

One hundred years for a Library needs a celebration and that is exactly what is being done by the University of Peradeniya Library, by presenting a “Logo” to mark the event on 23rd of February 2021.
This Libary possesses the literary evidence of the Society to trace the cultural legacy of Sri Lanka on the palm leaf collection of the country.  This Library holds the second-largest collection and it is the largest collection in any other University Library.


The collection is around 5,000 items with about 250,000 individual leaves and the Chief Librarian Maheswaran had painstakingly established the Palm Leaf manuscript preservation and Conservation Unit within the Library when he was acting Chief Librarian.
In fact, the collection was ‘darkened’ for nearly a year, where much of the letters were faded and Dr. Maheswaran with the assistance given by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Upul B. Dissnayake preserved the Palm Ola Leaves for posterity of the country.

 

"The collection is around 5,000 items with about 250,000 individual leaves and the Chief Librarian Maheswaran had painstakingly established the Palm Leaf manuscript preservation and Conservation Unit within the library when he was acting Chief Librarian."

 

The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and six other members visited the library in 2016 to view the ola palm texts at the library and they were surprised that these documents had been well preserved and continue to be preserved in this state-of-the-art Library the legacy which commenced with the donation of 1650 books by Sir Ponnanbalam Arunachalam in 1921, as the nucleus to begin the Library in memory of his son Padmaba who died in London in a car accident. This collection is now titled the “ Padmaba” collection in the Library.

By 1925 the Library situated in Colombo as the Ceylon University Library had a collection of 80,000 items and the first Librarian was Reginald Stephan Enright a Graduate with Classics Honours -- a Trintian and who had his grounding in Librarianship in several libraries in the United Kingdom.

 

"On February 23  the Logo was unveiled by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya, Professor Uplul  Dissanayake  at the five-storey Library building  under the theme, “The unpatrolled Repository of Knowledge at the Centre of Excellence in  -- past and present’’.

 

It is reported in the University archives that Enright impressed on the Principal of the University College the need to have a proper Classification system in the Library.  He recommended the most suitable the needs was the ‘Dewey Decimal Classification’.

Since then the Library of the University of Peradeniya has grown to a state-of-the- art Library to keep to the modern-day technological advances and has also a number of donations from various eminent men of letters, to store their books for the future generations

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