Indian Institute of Astrophysics archives has important collections, some of
which are more than 200 years old. Considerable effort has been put in during
the last two years to collect, organize, preserve, and digitize these materials.
The collections are aesthetically displayed in a separate room adjacent to the
library on the IIA campus in Bangalore.
IIA Library has taken the responsibility of arranging the archival items systematically content-wise, taking appropriate care to meet the storage specifications. The preservation process involves cleaning, fumigation, repair, and rebinding. Some of the old handwritten manuscripts and scientific data sheets required lamination and an encapsulation process to retain the originality and at the same time to give a reinforcement, thus adopting the principle of a reversible process. For a few rare documents, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is helping us to restore the manuscripts. The library staff has made efforts to index all these items, and soon the finding tool will be available for the users of the archives.
The process of setting up the archives involved various steps starting from drafting the collection policy to addressing the different preservation issues. As our institute has naturally inherited the library and records of the Madras and Kodaikanal Observatories going back to 1786, the collection too has grown in parallel to include more than 5000 items in various formats such as manuscripts, photographs, maps, films, awards, framed materials, hand-drawn sketches, pictures, and instruments. Most of these items are of historical importance and environmentally sensitive.
The various archival items and contents illustrate essentially the role played by the individual astronomers and the directors of our parent observatories and the institute and the description of the science done at different times. Hence we have chosen to classify and organize these items chronologically according to the directors.
A reference library of the archival material has been created in digital form, accessible from the IIA Open Access Repository (https://prints.iiap.res.in). For those contents for which the full text is not available, they can be consulted physically in the archives with permission.
What we preserve?
The archive houses the inherited records of the library from the Madras and Kodaikanal observatory. Going back to 1786, the collection has grown in parallel to include more than 5000 items in various formats such as manuscripts, photographs, maps, films, awards, framed materials, hand-drawn sketches, pictures, and instruments. Most of these items are of historical importance and environmentally sensitive.
Why we preserve?
Since the institute is the inheritance of various rare yet precious resources, it is our responsibility to maintain retrospective access to these resources through archive access policies. We maintain the earliest handwritten manuscripts are the Madras Observatory Annual report of 1792, and the other two important manuscripts are Madras M S records relating to the years 1794-1812 and 1795-1800.
How we preserve?
The process of setting up the archives involved various steps starting from drafting the collection policy to addressing the different preservation issues. Several handwritten rare records of observations during Goldingham and Pogson's time (1796-1805, 1812-1830, 1861-1891) have been digitized.
We have organized these things in a logical, contents-based order while also taking care to fulfill the storage requirements. Regular cleaning, fumigation, repair, and rebinding are part of the preservation process.
To preserve the uniqueness while also providing reinforcement, some antique handwritten manuscripts and scientific data sheets needed lamination and an encapsulating procedure, which followed the reversible process concept. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) assists us in restoring a few rare documents. The library staff has worked hard to index all of these materials, and the finding tool will be available to archive users soon.