Malayala Grantha Vivaram is a project intended to make available reliable bibliographic information on all Malayalam books published in Kerala and elsewhere. It has its inspiration from the Malayalam Granthasooji in print envisaged and implemented by K M Govi.
The contributions of Sri. K.M Govi for documenting our literary heritage has no parallel in any Indian language. His Malayala Granthasoochi published by Sahithya Akademi in print which runs into almost ten volumes and more than 10000 pages is a monumental documentation of the books published in Malayalam up to 1995. It is the result of devotion and untiring effort of a library professional through almost forty years. In no other Indian language such an initiative has been ever undertaken or completed. Even institutions spending crores of rupees with assistance from many experts spanning over many years could never successfully accomplish such a work in India. This great man in his saintly secluded life devoted days and nights for watching new Malayalam publications and documenting them. Kerala State or the organization that has utilized his work has never acknowledged or rewarded him properly the way he deserved. Also they haven’t effectively utilized his unique creation for the sake of society, perhaps because they got it without any effort and expense.
A few words on the earlier attempts and research for developing DBMS applications in Malayalam to search and retrieve using Malayalam script will be relevant in this context.
The Malayalam Granthasooji of K M Govi in print has inspired Centre for South Indian Studies (CSIS), Thiruvananthapuram to take up various bibliographic projects to prepare searchable electronic databases of Malayalam publications from 2001 onwards. The Centre supported Government Brennen College, Thalassery to prepare a database of its Malayalam collection consisting rare and valuable documents not available elsewhere.
In the Malabar region where Brennen College is situated publishing of Malayalam books had flourished in the early years of printing. Basel Mission Press founded by Hermann Gundert which introduced printing in this part of the country was instrumental for this. The Brennen Library with 22000 Malayalam books is one of the biggest Malayalam collections in the State and many documents available there are not even present in Kerala Sahithya Akademi, State Central Library or Government Archives.
The project was successfully completed and published in CD in 2004. It was the first electronic catalogue publishing with search mechanism using ‘original’ Malayalam script. It was the result of research and development work undertaken by many individuals and organizations during the last decade.
As no other similar venture was published till 2004, the Brennen Malayala Granthasoochi technically became the first digital catalogue made available to the public in original Malayalam script. It is probably the first such successful attempt in any of the Indian languages.
Brennen Malayala Granthasoochi 2004 used the ‘original’ Malayalam script. The programme named M-ISIS for this electronic catalogue was developed in 2001 by K H. Hussain of Kerala Forest Research Institute, using UNESCO's CDS/ISIS as the base. This package was also the first localization of UNESCO's DBMS in any Indian languages. Sri K. H. Hussain was also a team member of ‘Rachana Akshara Vedi’ (1999), which led the language campaign for original Malayalam script. He was also instrumental in developing ‘Nitya Digital Archive’ in 2000, a package for developing full text digital archive. It also used CDS/ISIS as the back engine.
Historically the first attempt to develop an electronic catalogue in Malayalam script took place in Kerala Sahithya Akademi, Thrissur. Akademi has developed an in-house bibliographic database of approximately 50000 books using ASCII encoding in 2001. But even after many years they could not launch it in the web for the public.
The second attempt was by Sister Annie Felix of Vimala College, Thrissur, Kerala. There was an attempt from DC Books for producing an electronic catalogue of the books published by DC Books. But these projects also are not yet been published.
Immediately after the CD publication, in 2004 the Centre for South Indian Studies in association with Swatantra Malayalam Computing, Thrissur and Beehive Digital Concepts, Cochin initiated the present project Malayala Grantha Vivaram. The project started the compilation based on Brennen Malayala Granthasoochi. Publications available at Government Brennen College are thoroughly checked and edited by a team under the leadership of Sri. K. M Govi. Information on books published in Malayalam was sought directly from publishers, authors and translators through the net by Centre and input was received from various sources. Data was also extracted from catalogues of major publishers. Sri. K.M. Govi’s vast experience and knowledge gained from compiling Malayala Grandhasoochi shaped and perfected the present ‘Malayala Grandha Vivaram’. CSIS and Beehive invested in systems and data entry operators specially trained in Malayalam Unicode.
Sri. K. M. Govi the major force behind the project was born as youngest son of C K Sankunni Nair and K M Mayi Amma in 1930 at Chettamkunnu in Tellycherry. Passed SSLC in 1930 from BEMP High School. Took B A Degree from Brennen College in 1950. Worked for a short period in Government Secretariat, Madras. Took Post Graduate Diploma in Library Science from University of Madras in 1952. Worked as Distinct Librarian under Malabar Library Authority from 1952 to 1956. Established the Calicut District Library and branch libraries in different regions of Malabar as the first phase of establishing Malabar Public Library Network. Based on these experiences wrote ‘Library Science’ the first book on that subject in Malayalam language. From 1956 to 1987 worked in Indian National Bibliography at Central Reference Library in National Library, Calcutta. Envisaged and implemented the Malayala Granthasooji consisting of information on books published in Malayalam from the year 1772 to 2000 in seven volumes running into more than 10000 pages. Based on his years of research wrote the book Adi Mudranam Bharaththilum Malaylathilum. Also published a book Public Library which is a bird’s eye view of the public library movement worldwide introducing the social and political factors that helped the evolution of the public library system. His other publications include Catalogue Nirmanam, Nammude Reference Sahityam. Pusthakavum Vayanayum, Nirupana Suji, Muthuswami Deekshithar, Syama Sasthri, Indian Literature in English : A Bibliography etc. Address: Korapram House, Chettamkunnil, Tellycherry -1