Background

Although these valuable documents have received the attention of the authorities for a long period of time even up to now there is no national programme to preserve and make them available for study and research. Having considered the absence of a single library devoted to the collection, preservation and provision of access to palm leaf manuscripts in Sri Lanka the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Kelaniya commenced to construct a special library building for the purpose.

The cornerstone of the first ever Palm Leaf Manuscript Study and Research Library in the Sri Lankan university system was set on July 29 2009 by the Prof. Sarath Amunugama, Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya as invited by Prof. Sunnanda Madduma Bandara Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The project was launched as one of several projects which were initiated to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the University of Kelaniya.

In order to copy down the palm leaf manuscripts in Sri Lanka which is a part of Tripitaka, an   agreement was made between the University of Kelaniya and the Dhammachai International Research Centre in Thailand. Faculty of Social Sciences was too involved in the project Under the guidance of Prof. Piyadasa Ranasinghe, Department of Library and Information Science. At the beginning of year 2010, the Dhammachai International Research Centre concluded the process of copying down the Tripitka. Then another project was launched by Palm Leaf Manuscript Study and Research Library to cover many other subject fields apart from the Tripitaka. Dhammachai International Research Centre donated material which were necessary to continue the project.

 

On December 8, 2010 as invited by Prof. Chandrasiri Rajapakse Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences Vice Chancellor of University of Kelaniya Prof. Sarath Amunugama declared the Palm Leaf Manuscript Study and Research Library building open for the public use.

On December 27, 2011 Palm Leaf Manuscript Study and Research Library launched a project to copy down all the palm leaf manuscripts which were spread throughout the country. The project started from the Pothgul Maliga Maha Viharaya in Hanguranketha which has the biggest collection of palm leaf manuscripts in Sri Lanka.

As for now, Palm Leaf Manuscript Study and Research Library consists copies of original manuscripts which have been replicated by using the digital technology, from monasteries and personal gathering throughout the country. Several other personal collections have also been donated to the library. These documents have been preserved by using the digital technology. In order to access these data modern technological facilities are provided to the visitors who are interested.

The library will collect palm leaf manuscripts found in monasteries and personal collections as digitized or original copies, organize them with complete bibliographical details in a computerized database to provide access to those who engaged in manuscripts and related studies.