The lesser known facts about the National Library, Kolkata


School Library – felt like boring,

College Library – place of talking, J (murmur although)

Local Library – all about collecting,

National Library – pride of holding!


It is Kolkata – the City of Joy, which holds the pride of holding the National Library of India. Belvedere Estate in Alipore, Kolkata is the address of the largest library in India in terms of its volume. The Library is operated under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Few things we must know about this place of heritage in the metropolitan, which can raise the dignity of this renowned place in your vision –

  • It is the largest Library in India in terms of its collection of resources, which ranges excess across 2.2 million books only.
  • Before Independence, the Library was the Official place of Residence for the Lt. Governor of Bengal.
  • The Library was known to be the Calcutta Public Library at the time of its establishment and was non-governmental of type in terms of its operations. The Library opened its gates in the year 1836 at Esplanade, Calcutta.
  • Being non-governmental in nature, the Library was run on proprietorship basis. Prince Dwarkanath Tagore was the first proprietor of the Library. He was the first Librarian of the Calcutta Public Library.
  • The Library received its first donation of books from the College of Fort Williams under the initiative of Lord Metcalfe – the then Governor General of Bengal. The donation counted 4675 volumes of books.
  • The Calcutta Public Library got amalgamated with The Imperial Library (formed in 1891) in the year 1903. The two units merged into a common form under the supervision of Lord Curzon and laid its reading places open for public since January 30, 1903.
  • Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was the President of The Imperial Library Council in 1910 and donated 60000 books from his personal collections in favor of the readers visiting the Library.
  • John Macfarlane was appointed as the first Librarian of the Imperial Library
  • The Imperial Library was declared as the National Library on February 01, 1953. The library got shifted from Esplanade to its current location at this point of time.

Now we know about the timeline in which the Calcutta Public Library got developed to be the National Library. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture decided to restore the place of national heritage. In the course of this action, the team of archaeologists and conservation engineers from the Archaeological Survey of India found a hidden space measuring near about 1000 square feet, which was unknown to ordinary public. Many assumptions like the place to be the remand room of Warren Hastings to torture culprits and a space to save treasures came on the mind and lips of people around. However, it was found to be filled with mud whose purpose was to provide stability to the enormous building, now known as The National Library. Spread over an area of 30 acres of area, the site of national heritage, The National Library holds the following credentials –

Opening of Calcutta Public Library21 March,1836
Opening of Imperial Library to the public30th January,1903
Change of the name of the National Library1948
National Library Opened to public1st February,1953
Number of working day of the Library in a year362 Days
Total Number of books in the Library26,41,615
Total number of Digitised book/Documents21,250
Total number of Maps88,162
Total Number of Manuscripts3231
Total number of Bound Periodicals1,47,331
Total Number of Newspapers(Titles)905
Total number of Bound Newspapers11,911
Total number of Microforms1,04,388

The National Library is having humongous resources of knowledge and information, which is accessible from 9 AM to 8PM on working days and between 09:30 AM to 06:00 PM on weekly and national holidays. Kolkata – the City of Joy is filled with places of national importance and heritage. It would be very unsavoury and nearby impossible to showcase the grandness of the city in an article.

Kolkata- City of Joy was the glimpse of the city. Keep on following us to know more facts about the city which is still to be unveiled at our columns!


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