Every time we lose a book, we lose invaluable information and a window to our past.

But in India’s libraries, preservation and restoration of old manuscripts is not treated with the seriousness it deserves. In this environment of callousness, Mumbai resident Anand Akolkar is waging a somewhat lonely war, from his humble home in the financial capital.

Akolkar, neither a historian nor an archivist, applies the knowledge he has acquired as a chemist to the conservation of paper, to understand why it deteriorates and how to stop it.

Akolkar has worked as a conservator for 22 years and has lent his knowledge to the Asiatic Library in Mumbai, where he helps them keep their books safe. Among other things, this is done by controlling temperature and environmental factors.

A few thousand miles away in Dublin, the biggest university library in Ireland has several lessons for India on how seriously the preservation and restoration of books should be taken. The library has a team of conservators that work full-time on preserving the manuscripts.

In this episode of The Intersection, conservators from Dublin and India talk about the art of conservation of manuscripts and how, in an era of digitisation, the worth invaluable and intangible worth of a hard copy book needs to be preserved to the best of our abilities.

This is the latest episode of The Intersection, a fortnightly podcast on Audiomatic. For more such podcasts, visit audiomatic.in.