National Library of India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

National Library of India
National Library, Calcutta 2007.jpg
National Library
TypeNational library
Established1836; 184 years ago (1836) (as Calcutta Public Library)
30 January 1903; 117 years ago (1903-01-30) (as Imperial Library)
1 February 1953 (67 years ago) (1953-02-01) (as National Library of India)
LocationBelvedere Estate, Kolkata, West Bengal
Coordinates22°32′00″N 88°20′00″E / 22.533206°N 88.333318°E / 22.533206; 88.333318Coordinates: 22°32′00″N 88°20′00″E / 22.533206°N 88.333318°E / 22.533206; 88.333318
Items collectedbooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and manuscripts
Other information
BudgetRs 103 crore ($ 14 million)[1]
DirectorArun Kumar Chakraborty [2]
Parent organizationGovernment of India
AffiliationMinistry of Culture

The National Library of India is the largest library located in Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata, India.[3] It is India's largest library by volume and public record.[4][5][6] National Library is under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The library is designated to collect, disseminate and preserve printed material produced in India. It is the largest in India with a collection in excess of 2.2 million books.[7] Before independence, it was the official residence of Governor-General of India.

The library operates under the national government’s Department of Culture and is designated to collect, disseminate, and preserve all printed material produced in India.[8] The National Library is a result of the merging of the public library with the Imperial Library—several government libraries. The National Library (1953), then the Imperial Library housed several foreign (British) and Indian titles and was open to the public.[8] It collects book, periodicals, and titles in virtually all the Indian languages while the special collections in the National Library of India house at least fifteen languages.[8] The Hindi department has books that date back all the way to the nineteenth century and the first ever books printed in that language. The collections break down and consist of 86,000 maps and 3,200 manuscripts.[8]


National Library

The Imperial Library[edit]

The Imperial Library was formed in 1891 by combining a number of Secretariat libraries in Calcutta. Of those, the most important and interesting was the library of the Home Department, which contained many books formerly belonging to the library of East India College, Fort William and the library of the East India Board in London. But the use of the library was restricted to the superior officers of the Government.[9] Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was appointed as the president of imperial library council(1910) to which he donated his personal collection of 80,000 books arranged in a separate section.

Declaring the Imperial Library as the National Library[edit]

Formal opening of the National Library, c. 1 February 1953. Among those present are (from left to right) B. C. Roy, Maulana Azad, HC. Mukherjee, SS Bhatnagar, Humayun Kabir, and BS Kesavan.

After independence the Government of India changed the name of the Imperial Library to the National Library, and the collection was transferred from The Esplanade to the present Belvedere Estate. On 1 February 1953 the National Library was opened to the public by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.[10]

Discovery of hidden chamber[edit]

In 2010, the Ministry of Culture, the owner of the library, decided to get the library building restored by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). While taking stock of the library building, the conservation engineers discovered a previously unknown room. The secret ground-floor room, about 1000 sq. ft. in size, seems to have no opening of any kind.[11]

The ASI archaeologists tried to search the first floor area (that forms the ceiling of the room) for a trap door, but found nothing. Since the building is of historical and cultural importance, ASI has decided to bore a hole through the wall instead of breaking it. There are speculations about the room being a punishment room used by Warren Hastings and other British officials, or a place to store treasure.[11]

In 2011, the researchers announced that the room was filled entirely with mud, probably in an effort to stabilize the building.[12]


The National Library is located on Belvedere Road in Alipore, Calcutta. It is open between 9 am and 8 pm on all working days and between 9.30 am and 6.00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Government of India holidays.[3] It remains closed on three national holidays, 26 January *(Republic Day), 15 August (Independence Day) and 2 October (Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi).


  1. ^
  2. ^ Das, Soumya (16 July 2016). "National Library in Kolkata facing acute staff shortage". The Hindu.
  3. ^ a b "Useful Information". National Library.
  4. ^ "Largest Library in India - National Library Kolkata".
  5. ^ "Progress To Be Made In National Library, Kolkata". 16 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c d Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library an Illustrated History. Chicago: ALA Editions. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-602-39706-4.
  9. ^ "National Library". Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  10. ^ "National Library". Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey (22 November 2010). "Secret chamber in National Library". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  12. ^ Debaleena Sengupta (22 May 2011). "Room With No View". Business Standard India. Business Standard. Retrieved 22 May 2011.

External links[edit]