Goverment Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre

Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre, started in 1869 is the treasure house for ancient knowledge. It being a Government institution is headed by the Curator under the control of the Commissioner of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu. It houses invaluable 50,580 palm leaf manuscripts, 22,134 paper manuscripts and 25,373 reference books in various languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian etc., covering subjects like Mathematics, Astronomy, Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani, Veda, Agama, Architecture, Music, Sculpture, Fine Arts, History, Grammar, Literature and many others, written in South Indian and Oriental languages, and of Kifiyats and inscriptions, found in many places belonging to different periods. It is a great resource centre for scholars engaged in various kinds of researches.

Origin and Growth

The formation of the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre, Chennai has a peculiar historical background dating from 1800 A.D., onwards. This library was formed due to the laborious works of Colonel Colin Mackenzie, C.P.Brown and Prof. Pickford and later by Government of Tamil Nadu in the gathering of manuscripts.


The library which was under the control of Director of Public Instruction, Higher Education, School Education and Public Libraries Department and again under the collegiate Education Department finally came under the administrative control of the Department of Archaeology in April 1980. The Government Oriental Manuscript Library is headed by a Curator and assisted by Librarian, Assistant Librarian, Pandits and other staff members.


It is well recognized that the adequate and competent staff are necessary for the provision of effective services and proper organization of a library. Four levels of library staff like professional cum Administration, professionals, non-professionals and administrative staff are working in this library

Present Manuscripts Stock

The existing collection of manuscripts in this library is in the form of Palmleaves and Paper exposed in different languages. The language wise collection available in different form is furnished in the Table given below.

S.No Language Palmleaves Paper Manuscripts Total
1 Tamil 11,183 5,775 16,958
2 Sanskrit 38,282 11,473 49,755
3 Telugu 806 1,426 2,232
4 Kannada 182 72 254
5 Marathi --- 967 967
6 Urdu --- 184 184
7 Arabic   407 407
8 Persian --- 1,396 1,396
9 Local Records -- 434 434
10 Other languages 127 -- 127
  Total 50,580 22,134 72,714

Reference books stock

S.No Language Total
1 Tamil 5442
2 Sanskrit 7320
3 Telugu 1875
4 Kannadam 700
5 Marathi 137
6 Malayalam 444
7 Arabic 230
8 Persian 265
9 Urdu 705
10 English 6926
11 Hindi 130
12 Catalogue 805
13 Dictionary 182
14 Bengali 18
15 German and other languages 194
  Total 25373


Even though the functions of the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre are enormous the main functions are as follows:

  • Identification and acquisition of manuscripts
  • Preserve the palm leaves manuscripts
  • Preserve the paper manuscripts
  • Classification and Cataloguing of manuscripts
  • Publications of rare manuscripts in book format
  • Convert the Manuscripts images into digitial format
  • Convert the Manuscripts images into Micro film format
  • Dissemination of information about manuscripts
  • Publishing Multilingual Bulletin annually.
  • Create the awareness about manuscriptology


The services offered by the library (1) Reference Service (2) Reading the manuscript for the users (3) Translation service (4) Bibliographic service and (5) Selective Dissemination of Information service etc

a) Reference Service

The GOML offers general reference services to their users. The question like short range and long range references such as availability of manuscripts and documents in the library and specific enquiry on a particular topic. The pandits and staff are providing reference services and tools such as descriptive, triennial catalogues, Indexes are also helpful to find out the relevant information in the library

b) Reading the Manuscript for users

Reading of the manuscript is not easy. It requires ability to decipher the meaning of the script. Language experts of the concerned language are help to read the manuscript and tell the concept of the topic if the user does not acquire skills

c) Translation Service

This library also provides translation service to the users with the help of pandits. The similar area materials are also available in different languages. Pandits are translating the manuscripts and disseminate the required information the languages are to be referred to by the user. In that case the pandits of different languages help the reader in translating a small portion of the document if it is essential for the research work of the user

d) Bibliographic Service

This library prepares bibliographies of manuscripts under different languages. The prepared bibliographies are issued under two different series Government Oriental Manuscript Series and Government Oriental Series. The first one named if the item is prepared by the staff of the GOML. Later one named for items prepared by the outsider

e) Selective Dissemination of Information service

At present, a manual SDI service is being operated in GOML. for which user’s profile with name of the user, his \ her address and the subject of his \ her interest is maintained. When the particular subject manuscripts are traced out they are scanned by the pandit for their contents and matched for the subject interest defined in the user’s profile and relevant ones are sent to the user for his immediate use.

Rules and Regulations for utilizing the manuscripts

1. Visitors who desire to use the library between 10.00 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. They shall enter their name and address legibly in the library Register.

2. Visitors should not write upon or damage or make any mark on any manuscript / Reference book belonging to the library. 3. No. tracing or mechanical reproduction shall be made without permission of the Curator. 4. Silence should be strictly observed in the library at all time. 5. Readers shall be responsible for any damage done to the Manuscripts, Reference books or other property belonging to the library and shall be required to replace reference book or other property damaged or pay the said value in cash thereof.

6) To obtain the permission for copying and consulting the manuscripts of this library one requisition letter which consists of the declaration should be given in the following format :-


The Government Oriental Manuscripts Library is located in the Western Wing of the first floor of the Madras University Library, Chepauk, Chennai - 600 005. It is kept open from 10.00 A.M., to 5.45 P.M., on all working days and shall remain closed on Fridays and Saturdays and the Government holidays.

Sale of Publications

Publications in the price lists are available for sale at the Sales section in the office. From 10-00 a.m., to 5.45 p.m., Prices mentioned in this lists are net. Packing and transporting charges are extra. 25% discount is offered to all publications. Those who wish to get the books by post, should mention the name of the books and number of copies in their letter . On receipt of their letter the total cost inclusive of postal charges and packing charges will be intimated to the buyers. The amount should be sent only in the form of a demand draft drawn in favour of the CURATOR, GOVT.ORIENTAL MANUSCRIPTS LIBRARY AND RESEARCH CENTRE, CHENNAI 5. A covering letter should state the purpose for which the D.D. is sent. As soon as the D.D. is received the book will be sent. Books outside India could be supplied by Airmail only. The cost involved will be intimated on receipt of order.

Address for further communication and clarification

  • Anna Centenary Library,
  • 7th Floor,Gandhi Mandapam Road,,
  • Kotturpuram,,
  • Chennai, - 600085.