The Asiatic Society
( Founded in 1784 )




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On the abolition of the College at Fort William, a much larger collection of historical and other works relating to India, the whole of its Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Urdu works, mostly in manuscript, were placed under the custody of the Society, subject only to two conditions, namely, safe and careful preservation, and unrestricted accessibility to the public at all reasonable hours. Exchanges of publications were also made with institutions and learned Societies. Duplicates in the Library were exchanged with books in possession of private individuals, and members retiring from India sometimes presented or sold selections of their libraries to the Society. A collection of some illustrated works on Botany was received from Dr. N. Wallich in June 1817, which was subsequently sent to the East India Company’s Botanical Gardens at Sibpur. Acquisition by purchase has always been very insignificant. The Society’s supplier in the days of William Jones was Peter Elmsly of London. Since 1806, the Society appointed agents in England from among its members who offered gratuitous service (e.g. Dr. Francis Gladwin, H. T. Colebrooke, Dr. H. H. Wilson and others) to select, purchase and forward all important books of Science and Oriental literature together with the leading scientific and other periodicals ;published in Europe. In the 20th century Dr. N. Annandale, Dr. B. C. Law (on Buddhism), Dr. C. W. Gurner (on Greek and Latin Literature), R. P. Chanda (on Indian History and Culture), C. R. Cama (on Indo-Muslim literature and history), Bengal Club (on European History and Politics) and Dr Pratap Chandra Chunder (Nirmal Chandra Chunder’s Library) and many others made gifts of large and special collections. Ananda Bazar Patrika presented a very valuable collection of about 12,000 volumes to the memory of Prafulla Chandra Sarkar. Among the institutions of foreign countries, which donated a large number of books to the Society’s Library mention should be made of the Smithsonian Institute of America, Institut Danois des Exchanges, and Japan Foundation. Prof. Nirmal Kumar Bose bequeathed his loibrary to the Society. This filled in many gaps in the collection of the Society. Jnananjan Niyogi’s collection of books now forms a part of the Library. Space does not permit to record the names of other distinguished donors. The periodical collection of the Society is unique in Asia, especially in its holdings of learned journals from all over the world. Even the journals of the Societies established long before the foundation of the Asiatic Society are available here. Most of these have been acquired by way of gift or by exchange with Society’s publications which were, and are still, held in high esteem by the learned world. There are some unique journals in Indian languages which are not available elsewhere. There are about 5,000 titles of learned journals of which about 100 titles only are subscribed and these run into 1,12,000 volumes or thereabout. Scholars from all parts of India and abroad visit this library for consultations of this unique collection.


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