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Kannada language collections

Our Kannada collections include manuscripts, early and modern printed books, periodicals, newspapers, and audiovisual materials. We have particularly important holdings of 19th to mid-20th century publications. Our holdings overall are an important resource for the study of South Asia.


We hold approximately 82 items including manuscripts on palm leaf, copper, stone and paper. A small number of these are in European languages. The manuscripts collection includes items which came from the the India Office Library,  the Oriental Collections of the British Museum, and those acquired subsequently by the British Library.  Manuscripts are listed in the (unpublished) Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

Early and modern printed books and periodicals

The Library holds, and continues to acquire, books and journals in the humanities and social sciences in Kannada and other languages of Karnataka. Books are acquired mainly by purchase from India and elsewhere, and through donations. The monograph collection amounts to roughly 30,000 items. Our holdings of 19th and early to mid-20th century Kannada materials form a unique and important collection. This strength is complimented by archival material on Karnataka within the India Office Records which are the archives of the East India Company and the Indian government to 1947. Also significant is the collection of early printed Christian literature by various missionaries in Kannada, Konkani in Kannada script, and Tulu in Kannada script.  Of note too is a small of segment of literature in Kannada script belonging to the Sri Vaishnava sect of South India, using Tamil syllables which can not be expressed by Kannada syllables.


Kannada books acquired since 1980 are included in Explore the British Library. Please contact us for help with searching. Older books are listed in the following published catalogues, which are available in the Library's Asian and African Studies Reading Room:

  1. A Catalogue of the Kannada, Badaga, and Coorg books in the Library of the British Museum, compiled by L. D. Barnett, 1910
  2. Supplementary Catalogue of Kannada Books in the British Library Department of Printed Books, India Office Library and Records … by Albertine Gaur, 1985
  3. India Office Library and Records Catalogue of Kannada Books to 1970
  4. India Office Library and Records Kannada catalogue 1972-1983 by edited by Nalini Persad 

Items 3 & 4 are also available in microfilm format.

Proscribed publications

These are publications banned by the pre-1947 Indian government Ten Kannada publications are listed in: Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books by Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd (London: British Library Reference Division, 1985)

Manuscripts and older books may be consulted in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room. More recent books may be viewed in any St Pancras reading room, and books in Kannada published since 1945 are available for loan to libraries and other institutions through the Library's Document Supply Centre.


Mrs Nalini Persad, Curator of South Indian Language Collection
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7659
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7850