Digital Humanities from the Ground Up: The Tamil Digital Heritage Project at the National Library, Singapore


To commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence in 2015, a community-led group sought to present a gift to the nation in the form of a digital collection of 50 years of Tamil literary writing in Singapore. The National Library, Singapore as the national repository of Singapore's published heritage was approached to be a key partner to create this digital archive. This saw two unique features taking place - digital humanities from the ground-up and secondly, a ground-breaking initiative in which Tamil content was digitized and made searchable online through optical character recognition (OCR). This project was challenging as Tamil OCR is still a developing technology and the objective to digitise and OCR Tamil works is an endeavor that has not been attempted on this scale before. This presentation will highlight how writers, teachers and the National Library collaborated to bring justice to books that were not easily available and create a ready-resource of local literary works by transforming physical books into a digital resource. Extensive community resources were mobilized to annotate and proofread these books. As a result, not only has the historical record of Tamil creative writing been preserved but it has become the most comprehensive resource of Singapore Tamil literature available and this has opened up many possibilities in teaching and learning as well as in raising awareness to a wider audience.

Author Information
Sharmini Chellapandi, National Library Board, Singapore

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2016
Stream: Librarianship - Digital humanities, literature and culture

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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