Release Date : 12 Oct 2013

Tamil Community and National Library Board to jointly lead collection and digitisation efforts

Singapore, 12 October 2013 – For the first time, a community-initiated drive to digitise Singapore's Tamil literary heritage will enable 50 years of Tamil creative writing to be preserved for future generations. The project is led by the Tamil Digital Heritage (TDH) Group, comprising individuals who are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Singapore Tamil literature, in partnership with the National Library Board (NLB). This pioneering effort is also supported by the National Heritage Board (NHB), the National Arts Council (NAC), and the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), as well as Tamil authors and community organisations.

The digitised collection will be presented as the Indian community's gift to the nation in 2015,     to mark the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence. The patron of this project, Mr S Iswaran, Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, inaugurated the project today.

Over the next two years, the TDH Group will mobilise community resources and expertise in carrying out the project. A significant step will be to digitise all literary works written in Tamil by Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents between 1965 and 2015, estimated to number over 500.  The Group will be involved in obtaining the digitisation rights of the literary works, as well as proof reading and annotation of the digitised works. Besides published works, drafts of works and manuscripts may also be collected to enrich the collection. 

As the lead government agency supporting this community project, NLB will undertake the technical and professional aspects of digitisation of the Tamil literary works. When the digital archive is ready in 2015, the collection will be hosted online by NLB, together with its other collections for the public.

Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer of NLB said, “Singapore's literary arts form an important cornerstone of the nation's multicultural heritage. Through the National Library's collections, publications and programmes, Singapore's published heritage is preserved for the present and future generations.  This digital collection will become an important record of our Tamil community's rich literary heritage. It is also an opportunity to bring Singapore Tamil literature to the wider Tamil audience across the world.”

Ms Jennifer Yin, Director, Language Division, National Heritage Board, said “This initiative is more than a collection of literary heritage. It captures the thoughts, traditions, values, emotions and aspirations of a community who has been integral in shaping who we are as a nation. NHB is pleased to support this effort from the community and believes it will inspire future generations.”

Mr Khor Kok Wah, Senior Director (Literary Arts), National Arts Council, said “NAC is pleased to support this pioneering ground-up initiative. Preserving and digitising our Tamil literary heritage is an important undertaking that will make Tamil literature more accessible and create opportunities for translation so that new audiences get to know our Singapore writers. We hope these works will inform and inspire new readers and writers, and help to strengthen connections between generations and among the different language communities.”

Mr R. Ramachandran, Executive Director of the National Book Development Council of Singapore, said “The literary output of Tamil writers in Singapore in digitised format when completed would be very useful besides being readily and easily accessible worldwide.  This project as envisioned is perhaps the first project of its kind in the Tamil Language. The Book Council is very pleased to be part of this commendable project.”

Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Chief Coordinator of the Tamil Digital Heritage Group said, “We are delighted that an idea seeded by a small group of individuals has found such resonance with so many Tamil authors and national agencies to make it a reality. We hope every published author will join this project and the community will provide the necessary support. We want to make it a fitting gift to our nation on its 50th birthday.”