Connemara Public Library
Connemara Public Library
|Established||5 December 1896|
|Location||Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu|
|Items collected||Books, Journals, Magazines, Braille Books, Manuscripts|
Connemara Public Library at Egmore in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, is one of the four National Depository Libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India. Established in 1890, the library is a repository of centuries-old publications, wherein lie some of the most respected works and collections in the country. It also serves as a depository library for the UN.
The library's beginnings go back to 1860, when Captain Jesse Mitchell set up a small library as part of the Madras Museum in Madras, capital of the Madras Presidency in the British Indian Empire. Hundreds of books had been found to be surplus in the libraries of Haileybury College (where civil servants of the Indian Civil Service were trained in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire) and these were sent to the Madras Government, which in turn handed them over to the Madras Museum. Conceived on the lines of the British Museum Library, it was part of the Madras Museum until 1890, when the need for a free public library prompted the then Governor of Madras, Lord Connemara, to lay the foundation on 22 March 1890. It opened in 1896 and was named after Lord Connemara (by then the former Governor), an Anglo-Irish nobleman. The library was indeed essentially free: A small deposit had to be paid but this was refundable. It became the state central library in 1948, with the enactment of Madras Public Libraries Act 1948, which was the first concerted effort in India to institutionalise, structure, otherwise, co-ordinate and organise public library services. This is one of the Asia's largest libraries.
The library was as part of a cultural complex that grew in the grounds of what was once called The Pantheon. The entire complex now boasts buildings that reflect architectural unity, even while demonstrating the various stages of Indo-Saracenic development, from Gothic-neo-Byzantine to Rajput Mughal and Southern Hindu Deccani.
The new building, which was added to the library in 1973, has a vast collection of books, a much sought-after textbook section, a periodicals hall, a reference room, a video room, an entire floor for books from the Indian languages, a Braille Library and an IAS study centre. Efforts are on to fully computerise the library database, which could ensure easy access to books. The library has a collection of over 600,000 books.
In 1981 the central government ordered that the library became one of the four national depository libraries. The library, however, is not a registered member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
The library, along with the Madras museum, benefited greatly from the effects of the Madras Literary Society, the Oriental Manuscripts Library and the Records Office. Under the provision of Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act 1954, every publisher in India has to compulsorily send a copy of each publication to the library. Apart from this a good number of publications and periodicals of UN and its specialized organs and Asian Development Bank were also received. Furthermore, several books were added every year by purchasing from the funds made available by the state government budget.
Some of the rarest collections at the library include the Bible (published in 1608), Rheed et al.'s 12-volume Hourtus Indicus Malabaricus (published in 1678-1703), J. Ovington's A Voyage to Suratt in the years 1689 (published in 1696), Charles Lockyer's An account of the Trade in India (published in 1711), An Account of the Religion and Government, Learing and Economy, etc. of the Malabarians (published in 1717), and Nicolai Laverrntii Burmanni's Flora Indica (published in 1768).
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- Edgar Thurston (1896–1908)
- J. R. Henderson (1908–1919)
- F. H. Gravely (1920–1938)
- R. Janarthanam Naidu (1939–1950)
- K. Govinda Menon (1951–1958)
- K. Rajagopalan (1959–1962)
- Ve. Thillainayagam (1963–1972)
- A. M. Sundararajan (1972–1981)
- C. K. Sundararajan (1981–)
- A. M. Sundararajan
- N. Avadaiappan
- P. A. Naresh
- P. Narayana Bhat
- P. Meenakshisundaram
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- "Museum, Library and Theatre". Madras Musings. XX (3). 16–31 May 2010. Retrieved 1 Jul 2012.
- "Connemara (State Central) Public Library (Chennai, India)". University of Chicago. 2009. Retrieved 28 Jun 2012.