IPRA 2017 – First Honourable Mention – Mr N.Selvarajah

Mr N.Selvarajah was in the unusual position of having been nominated twice by the same people, Mr. Thambirajah Jeyabalan and Mayooran Ambalavanar. For voting purposes these nominations were consolidated into one nomination, which were considered as a single nomination. We are calling the nominations placed in second and third place “Honourable Mentions”, and his placing in third means that Mr N.Selvarajah is the First Honourable Mention of the Informed Peer Recognition Award 2017.

Congratulations to him on this achievement, which recognises the impressive work he does for his community.


The text of the nominations is below.


“Mr. Selvarajah is a retired librarian from Sri Lanka, currently living in the UK for the past 25 years. Whilst living in the UK, he has compiled 11 volumes of annotated bibliographies comprising of Sri Lankan Tamil’s published works from around the world. So far he has compiled 11000 entries and counting. This enormous project is self-financed with the sole purpose of documenting the history of the Tamil society that would have otherwise been lost through war and time. This Herculean task has not been successfully attempted by the Sri Lankan National library nor anyone else in the Tamil society.

Alongside writing these bibliographies Mr. Selvarajah also travels around London and provides a mobile book market stall. Here he offers a range of Tamil books suitable for the young and old, at a very low cost. The money of which goes to further publishing fees. His simple idea is ‘if people will not go to books, then the books shall come to them’. He is a strong believer that everyone should be given the chance to read for enjoyment and learning.

Mr. Selvarajah has also set up a non-profit charity called ETDRC: ‘European Tamil Documentation and Research Centre’. This charity aims to provide books for those who wish to research into the Tamil civilisation.

Books Abroad is a popular charity that gives a second life to books that would have been used for road surfacing. Mr. Selvarajah works closely with the charity to provide these books to schools and libraries in deprived areas of Sri Lanka. All of these books are written in the English language and play a vital part in the educational system of the country.

Mr. Selvarajah’s work, although dedicated to the Tamil society, has a wider purpose. It not only saves documentations from previous generations but also provides a door for the current and next generations to learn and grow. It allows people of all ethnicities to learn about a civilisation and preserve it from being lost in history.”


“Mr.N.Selvarajah is a Director of a charity Called ETDRC.He has written several articles and books for the benefit of Tamil community.He has done his reserch written and published 11 Volumes of Noolthettam to date and each volume consists of 1000 entries of Sri Lankan tamil writers , their work and a brief explanation of what the work consists of.

Each noolthettam publication was self financed by Mr.N Selvarajah.This is a gigantic task that should have been done by the Sri Lankan National Library or by a separate tamil literary organisation,not by a lone man.This task allows the titles to be documented in history.The affect of the civil war on tamil books also explained in his published volumes.  

Alongside publications, he has organised numerous book markets in London.Here he delivers boxes of tamil books to local tamil communities and sells them at a low price.The money raised goes to ETDRC Charity.The purpose of the book stall is to allow children and adults to have a chance to read a range of books.He is a keen believer that knowledge is wealth.

He also works with a charity called ” Books Abroad” ,which sends crates of English books to impoverished communities across Sri Lanka.The books are provided for schools and local libraries and allow the children to learn the English medium.This charity and the books have played an important part in helping with education and in some areas they are the only books available to a child. Mr.N Selvarajah established the ETDRC charity,which is a non profit making organisation aimed at providing books and documentation for any researchers and students free of charge.The ultimate goal of this charity is to form an establishment for such research and documentation to take place.”


Comments from the judging teams on this nomination are below.


“Without dedicated nominees like Mr N.Selvarajah the preservation and effective curation of ‘marginal’ collections would be impossible. Addressing issues of deprivation and the need to ensure cultural identity isn’t eroded or lost is what makes his nomination stand out. He is a role model for young professionals and highlights the importance of being truly collegial.”
“We felt that of all the nominations, Mr N.Selvarajah ‘s activities had a greater and wider impact on communities. Not only within the immediate area in which they operate, but also overseas by providing materials for deprived groups in Sri Lanka.”


Mr N. Selvarajah’s response to his nomination is below:

“I am humbled and eternally grateful to be nominated for  such a prestigious award. As you rightly pointed out, the preservation and curation of these works would be impossible without the cooperation of various writers, who have tasked me with the role of documenting and cataloguing their works. You do not start a task such as this with an end date in mind, and therefore it is important for this sort of recognition, as it brings to light my work to a greater audience. I must also take this opportunity to thank the numerous writers/publishers and librarians who have assisted me in the past and most crucially during the first 1000 entries. Before the ‘Nool Thettam’ brand had spread in the collective consciousness of the Sri Lankan Tamil writers, the first writers who trusted me enough to pass me their details and compile the first volume, that allowed me to leap ahead and compile the subsequent volumes. The task is not yet complete, nor will it ever be – and that is the burden of this role that I have started upon 17 years ago, but it is recognition such as this that propels me forward for the next 17 years. Thank you.”



8 thoughts on “IPRA 2017 – First Honourable Mention – Mr N.Selvarajah

  1. My heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Nadarajah Selvarajah reagrding his IPRA’s First Hononable Mention. I am quite aware of his perseverance and dedication to the cause of documenting all new Tamil books published by Sri Lankan Tamils. In my opinion he amply deserves this recognition and honour. I wish him well in the future too.

  2. Dear N Selvarajah
    Our heartfelt congratulations for your sincere hard works for the Tamil library world and great achievements. Wish you all the best.
    Rita & Joseph Fatimaharan

  3. Hi Selva

    Thank you for sending us the link to your award. Sincere congratulations from us all at Books Abroad.

    You must be very proud of all your hard work being recognised in this way.

    Vinay was very pleased to see this and asked me to let all our members know of your valuable help in the past working in joint partnership to help supply books for schools in Sri Lanka.

    Kind regards

    Hazel Stephen
    Books Abroad
    Unit 1 Richmond Av Ind Est

    Tel 01464861446

  4. Thank you Dr Kalpana Chandrasekar to let us know about this achievement of Mr N Selvarajah. Certainly Nool thaeddam (நூல்தேட்டம் ) will be a valuable asset to the Tamil Society around the world. Great Job. Our heartiest Congratulations to Mr N Selvarajah.

  5. We all Sri Lankan librarians should be grateful for your efforts in preserving the information on Tamil works comprising of our literary heritage.

    Congratulations and good luck to you.

    Wathmanel Seneviratne

  6. Congrats N.Selvarajah. A recognition long overdue. After all the hardship living in council housing and benefits you are a shining beacon for the expatriate Tamils. I will visit next time you come USA.

  7. Dear Selva

    You very well deserve this for your hard word down the years

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