Preservation and Conservation of Palm Leaf Manuscripts at the Library of University of Sri Jayewardenepura


  • M. Nishanthi Library, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • N. D. Wijayasundara Library, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka


Palm leaf manuscripts are one of the vital types of documents containing the indigenous knowledge of Sri Lanka. Treated and seasoned Palmyra leaf was widely used for writing before paper was utilized as writing material. Ancient people were not hesitant to write down their wealth of local knowledge in these palm leaf manuscripts. Today, there is a threat of extinction for the palm leaf manuscripts. The Library, University of Sri Jayewardenepura has launched a project on the Preservation and Conservation of Palm leaf manuscripts to address this issue. This gigantic task is important in preserving indigenous knowledge for future generations. The project began by collecting and physically conserving the palm leaf manuscripts scattered throughout Sri Lanka. In parallel to the project, we established the Preservation and Conservation unit at the library, intending to preserve rare books in addition to the palm leaf manuscripts. We applied established conservation methods according to the defect type found in manuscripts. After conservation, preservation techniques that suit the local environmental conditions were used. Finally, we digitized the complete set of manuscripts where researchers are allowed to use them according to the established policy.