Location and Capacity
The National Library of India is located on the Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal. By India's library of public records, and a collection of 2.2 million books, the National Library of India is categorized as being the largest library system in India.
The library is controlled under the Ministry of Culture and Government of India. The main aim of the library is to disseminate, collect, and preserve all printed materials which are produced in India. The library occupies around 30 acres (12 ha) of Belvedere Estate.
The National Library of India consists of:
- More than 22,70,000 books
- More than 86,000 maps
- More than 3,200 manuscripts
- Over 45 kilometers of shelf space
- Reading rooms that accommodate around 550 people
Both Indian and foreign (mostly from Britain) language books, were donated for the newly established library. According to the report of 1850, the Calcutta Public Library started to collect books from Marathi, Gujarati, Pali, Punjabi, and Sinhalese. The library regularly received donations from the Government of Bengal and North Western Regions, as well as from the from individuals.
Then on January 30, 1903 (117 years ago), the library became as Imperial Library of India. The use of the Imperial Library of India was limited and restricted to the higher officers, serving the Government. The Home Department of the library contained various books previously belonging to the libraries of Fort William, East India College, and the East India Board in London.
The current library, which is known as the National Library of India established 67 years ago, on February 1, 1953. After Independence, the Government of India ordered to change the name of the former Imperial Library to the National Library under the Act of 1948. The collection of the library was shifted from the Esplanade to the present Belvedere Estate. The first librarian who was appointed for the position was B. S. Kesavan.
Visiting at the National Library of India
The National Library of India is open during weekdays, between 9 am and 8 pm. On Saturdays, Sundays, and Government of India Holidays, the library works between 9.30 am and 6.00 pm.
Note that the library is closed during three national holidays, which are namely 26 January Republic Day, 15 August Independence Day, and 2 October Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
The National Library of India provides separate reading rooms in all four branches of the library. There is each Indian and foreign language division at the library. Visitors and the members of the library can find the Foreign Official Documents, Maps, Prints, Rare Books, Technology and Science Division, as well as the Asutosh Collection. Each of the division provides reading spaces.
For accredited scholars, the library of India offers special area equipped with comfortable seats in the Main Reading Room.
Access to the Library
Anyone above 18 can use the service of the library’s reading rooms. To access the reading rooms, an applicant must fill in a prescribed form along with a recommendation.
Annual Library Membership service is free. A reader who wants to use the library only for a day or two can ask for the Daily Membership Card. There is no need for formal membership access for the children to use the Children’s Library.
The National Library of India lends only a limited number of books under certain terms and conditions. To use the lending service, a reader or visitor must apply for membership of the Lending Division and fill in a prescribed lending form.
At a time, only two books can be borrowed for 14 days. The number of lending days can be extended for another 14 days, by a phone call request, by post or by personal visit at the library.
Membership of the Lending division is free of charge for everyone. However, the borrower has to pay the deposit of the amount equal to the item that is borrowed.
Services for Children
The National Library has a separate division for children to access the library collections. The Children Division is equipped with various books in English, Hindi, and Bengali languages. The division offers children a number of reading materials for fun, entertainment, and information.
The Children Division does not require any formal membership to use this section. Hence, any child can enter the Children’s Library, but firs, they should sign in for register, and then they can use the books. Note that the books from the Children’s Library Division are not lent out for home use. Currently, the Children’s Library holds around 30,000 books and some periodicals.