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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 85, February 2016

Special topic: Preservation and Conservation of library materials

Activities of IFLA Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centre Sri Lanka, National Library and Documentation Services Board

By Udaya Cabral, Director of the Sri Lanka IFLA (PAC) Centre, National Library and Documentation Services Board, Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka National Library Services Board was set up in 1970 by a parliamentary act. The main objective of this institution was to establish the National Library of Sri Lanka. The National Library of Sri Lanka was opened in 1990. The act was amended and the new act was introduced in 1998. Presently, the National Library of Sri Lanka is functioning under the National Library & Documentation Services Board (NLDSB). The Conservation and Preservation Division is a major active division in the NLDSB. The main responsibility of this division is to preserve the national library collection and provide assistance to protect library resources and documentary heritage housed in various government and non-government libraries in the country.

The National Library of Sri Lanka celebrated its 25 anniversary in 2015. The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka was initiated on 5 August, 2015 at the 25th anniversary celebration ceremony held in Colombo.

Services and activities of IFLA PAC Centre of NLDSB, Sri Lanka

Strengthening the preservation facilities in the National Library

Sri Lanka is a tropical country hence the environmental condition in the country causes serious damage to the library materials housed in libraries in the country. The National Library has made attempts to keep environmental condition in a constant level inside the collection area. A new central air condition system was installed to replace the outdated system at the end of December 2015. After the installation, the library is able to keep its library collection in standard environmental conditions of temperature (20-22°C) and humidity (55%).

Library Conservation Centers

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka of the NLDSB has set up 126 library conservation centers mainly in the public libraries nationwide. Five new library conservation centers will be established in the Northern Province 30 years after the civil war. These centers work as guardians of the documentary heritage in that respective administrative area. Basic equipment for binding and conservation training for librarians are provided to those centers by the IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka.

Disaster Recover Team

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka has established library disaster recovery team for the National Library. This team was trained to prevent, control and manage damage caused by major disasters. The team was trained by foreign and local experts to rescue people and library resources from major disasters. The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka makes full attention to establish district level disaster recovery teams in the future to protect the documentary heritage of the country.

Help to Preserve Ancient Writings Medium of Sri Lanka- Palm Leaf Manuscripts

Ancient Sinhalese had written manuscripts on processed palm leaves. Those palm leaf manuscripts are still deposited in some ancient temples in the country. "Panhida Herbal Oil" produced by the IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka is used for treating ancient palm leaf manuscripts. This herbal oil can be obtained in concessional rates for Buddhist temples to protect the palm leaf manuscripts housed in respective libraries.

Experiments on Library Pests

Infestation caused by various types of library pests is a major issue in libraries due to tropical climate in the country. Different types of chemicals and traditional methods are being tested at the IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka to create concrete solution to this issue.

< Testing N2 treatment against library pests >

International workshops for library professionals

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka annually organizes several library conservation training workshops for local library communities in the country. In addition, several workshops were organized in rural areas in the country for those who are unable to attend the workshops in Colombo.

< International Training workshop >

UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) Program

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka is the focal point for the UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) Program in Sri Lanka. The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka is handling the MOW Program in the country by maintaining the MOW register on documentary heritage in the country and nominating Sri Lankan documentary heritage to the MOW register. The two ancient records of Behesaja Manjusa and Mahawamsa palm leaf manuscripts were nominated to the UNESCO MOW register this year.

< Behesaja Manjusa >

< Mahawamsa >

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Program

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka combines to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Program. Several projects on safe guarding the ICH in Sri Lanka have been done during the last five years. The book on "Intangible Cultural Heritage safe guarding efforts in Sri Lanka" was compiled in 2008 with the assistance of Intangible Cultural Heritage Center for Asia and Pacific (ICHCAP) in Korea. Several activities are being planned to safe guard and promote the ICH in the country next year.

The IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka in the National Library was established in 2015 at its 25th anniversary ceremony as a mark of appreciation of the activities carried out during the last five years to promote its conservation and preservation activities in both the national and international level. Hence, the IFLA PAC Centre Sri Lanka is planning to strengthen and extend its library conservation activities for the years to come.

Copyright (C) 2016 National Library and Documentation Services Board, Sri Lanka