In an effort to conserve, preserve and archive the old, rare and historical valuable documents from going outside the country, the National Library and Archives of Bhutan (NLAB) are buying documents and collections from private individuals interested in donating the documents.

NLAB’s chief archivist, Kunzang Delek, said that documents like manuscripts, kashos, zhuyigs, and genyigs among others are important for the country but, most are either scattered, not taken care of, or are sold outside.

“This is why we need to have a way to retain them and to do that we’ve been receiving about Nu 0.8 million yearly to buy valuable documents,” he said. “This has been a success where individuals come with different documents to sell while a few come to donate to NLAB.”

Kunzang Delek said most of documents brought to them are Kashos issued during the reign of different monarchs, scriptures, old prayer books, kanjur and toenjur that are later archived at the National Library for reference.

“We do check the details of each document that people bring to authenticate its valuable information and ask for historical background of the documents,” he said, adding that most of these documents are from their forefathers.

If found difficult to verify, the owner is made to sign an obligation letter stating that any valuable documents given to NLAB does not carry any risk in future.

A committee decides the rates of the documents, which sometimes cost almost Nu 0.1 million based on the size, evidential, and valuable content of the document. The documents are fumigated and cleaned before archiving it in paper, microfilm, and digital forms.

Kunzang Delek said archiving old documents that contain important information would benefit the nation, future researchers and serve as knowledge for people.

“But not all we archive would be accessible since some documents contain sensitive information,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin