Visit to the British Library

On 24th October ALAG members were invited to the British Library to view some of the Bengali books dating back to the first printing press in India which are being digitised as part of the Two Centuries of Indian Print project.

To find out more about the project and the team who are undertaking this vital work view the project website at:

ALAG BL vist 02 241017

Members had the good fortune to view some of the books at first hand and ask questions about their backgrounds. One of the books was a cookery book with authentic recipes and another a travel guide on the etiquette of traveling by train which would have been a useful source of information at the time.

ALAG members would like to thank Project Manager Alia Carter for arranging the visit and Project Curator Layli Uddin for her infectious enthusiasm and knowledge about the books. Both are pictured above with ALAG members during the visit.

Introduction to the Two Centuries of Indian Print project

The ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project is the start of a major programme to share the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1713 to 1914. The British Library’s collection spans at least 22 South Asian languages and millions of pages, and is the most significant held anywhere outside the Subcontinent. Many of the books are unique and many are also in delicate condition due to their age, so the mass digitisation of these items will not only make them widely available to people around the world, but will also help preserve the fragile originals for future generations.

To find out more about the project watch this video or you can read more details on the project website

AliaCarterAlia Carter (pictured left) is Project Manager.


This pilot project, which centres around the digitisation of 4,000 early printed books in Bengali, started in April 2016 and is due to finish April 2018.  Many of the books in the pilot project are rare or unique to the British Library.


Layli Uddin, the project curator, has also organised a series of seminars related to the project, which are open to anyone to attend:

8 May 2017: Christopher D. Bahl (PhD student, SOAS, London), “Cultural Entrepôts and Histories of Circulation: The Arabic Manuscripts of the Royal Library of Bijapur”

22 May 2017: Professor Kamran Asdar Ali (University of Texas, Austin), “Of Communists and Conspiracy: The Rawalpindi Case in Pakistan”

5 June 2017: Radha Kapuria (PhD student, King’s College London), “Musicians and Dancers in 19th Century Punjab: A Brief Social History”

12 June 2017: Simon Leese (PhD student, SOAS, London), “Visions of the Arabic Hejaz: Memory and the Poetics of Devotion in 18th and 19thcentury North India”

View a detailed programme and find out more about these events.

No advance booking is required, and the sessions are free to attend. For further information, please contact Dr Layli Uddin, Project Curator of Two Centuries of Indian Print.

Location and Time: Foyle Learning Centre, British Library, 5:30-7:00pm


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