On 12th March, 1954 the Sahitya Academi (National Academy of Letters) was formed in New Delhi for art and literature enthusiasts working mostly on voluntary basis.
To achieve the lofty aim of raising the national standards of literature, local literature must be nurtured diligently, enabling its steady growth or continuing prosperity. Encouraged by the support given by the Centre to the States to accomplish this, the Kerala Sahitya Academi was established by the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin government, on August 15th of 1956. It was the first regional literary academy in the country. The Academi was inaugurated on the 15th of October, 1956, by Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma at the Kanakakunnu Palace in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.
Since the first of November of the same year was also the day when Kerala came into being as a separate State, the administrative functioning commenced only after ensuring representation from North Kerala or the Malabar region. The first general body meeting was held on 23rd March of the following year.
Several important Malayalam writers have been at the helm of the Academi.
Among the Academy’s assets, the most important one is, undoubtedly, its vast collection of books. In keeping with contemporary tastes and expectations, a digital library was begun in 2008. Library members are also provided with facilities such as a local library network, internet connectivity, digital versions of rare and valuable books, e-journals and so on.
A project for the digitization of 2500 rare books and early Malayalam periodicals such as Rasikaranjini, Mangalodayam, Lekshmibai, Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishath, Unni Namboothiri, Vidhyavinodhini, Kairali, Vivekodayam, Athmaposhini, Rajasree, Kavanakaumudi, Bhashaposhini (old), Sathyanathakahalam, Swadeshabhimani, Sahithya Thilak, Mithavadi, Charaka Samhita, Prabhudha Keralam and Jayakeralam is underway . This will make available to readers a unique collection of e-books and e-journals. An exhibition of oil portraits of past literary luminaries at the Academi is also on the anvil.
Currently, an interactive CD featuring 250 departed literary figures, with short biographical descriptions, photos, handwritten notes, list of publications and selected works from their repertoire are available at the Academi.
In 1976, the Appan Thampuran Memorial came under the Academi’s supervision. In May of 2013, the State government, which had taken charge of the Dr. Azheekode Memorial, entrusted the Academi with its administration.
Apart from compilation, digitization and the organisation of exhibitions highlighting the contributions of luminaries, the Academi successfully carries out the work of publication of various books. Many of these books have made invaluable contributions in carrying forward and refining the literary and cultural legacy of the State.
Notable among these are Kerala Bhasha Ganagal - Three Volumes, Pathonpatham Noottandile Keralam, Sahithyakara Directory, Keralathile Pakshikal, Nammude Sahithyam Nammude Samooham – Four Volumes, Amarakosam, Parameswari Vyakhyanam, K T yude Nataka Samaharam, C J yude Natakangal, Sahityacharithrangal (literary history of poems, novels, short stories and plays), Arabic English Malayalam Catalogue, Arthashasthram by Koutilya, Adhyathma Ramayanam by Thunchathu Ezhuthachan and Thullal Krithikal by Kunchan Nambiar. The periodical Sahityachakravalam was started in 1976.
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