Books are not only sources of information. They will also provide you with a special kind of relaxation that you will not find anywhere else. There are many people who love to read books. The smell of the fresh ink has an intoxicating effect on the mind of the book lovers. Though the internet will provide you with the information you are looking for, there is a certain charm in acquiring them from the books. If you are visiting the “city of joy” then you need to pay a visit to the National Library Kolkata.
With the advancement of science and technology, you will be able to acquire any book from the internet in the form of e-books. Still, the percentage of those who love reading books in the traditional manner is very high as compared to the e-book lovers. It is not possible for all to purchase books at all times. For them, the best place is the library.
Establishment of the Calcutta Public Library
The National Library Kolkata happens to be the oldest and the biggest library in the country. The establishment of the library was done by the British in the year 1836. At that time, it was known as the Calcutta Public Library. Back then, the operations of the library were done on the proprietary basis. The then government was not in charge of the maintenance and monitoring of the establishment.
Any person who was willing to pay a one-time fee of Rs. 300 or pay it on an installment basis for a term of three years was given the charge of the library. The doors of the library were open to all candidates who desired to acquire information. The books were given to all free of cost and were issued for certain duration. Lord Metcalf, the then Governor General, transferred around 4,675 books from the Fort William Library. The very first proprietor of the Calcutta Public Library was Dwarkanath Tagore.
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Establishment of the Imperial Library
In the year 1891, the city saw the establishment of the Imperial Library. The library was considered as a gem because it housed an impressive number of books. All these books were collected from the Secretariat libraries. Apart from these, the books were also brought from the libraries of the Fort William, East India College, and the London-based East India Board. Unlike the Calcutta Public Library, this library was only for the use of the high-placed officials of the government. As the use of the CPL and the IL was not as expected, Lord Curzon decided that the two must collaborate in the year 1903. This was the first step towards the formation of the National Library Kolkata.
National Library Kolkata: Its official opening
The location of the Imperial Library was at Esplanade. But after the nation receive the independence from the rule of the British; the central government took the decision that the name Imperial Library will be changed. From then on, the city and its residents got the National Library. The location of the library was also changed the name. The entire library, with thousands of books, scrolls, maps and so on, were brought to the new and present location at the Belvedere Estate. The doors of the National Library were officially open for the people on the 1st of February, 1953. Since then, the collection of the books has only increased.
Collection the Library houses
The National Library Kolkata is said to house an amazing collection of around 2,270,000 books, and the number is only growing with each day. You will find books on all subjects and topics. The library is famous for housing books that are not printed anymore. You will also get a vast collection of rare books as well. You will need special permission for issuing such books.
Apart from the books, the library has a collection of more than 86,000 maps and 3,200 rare and valuable manuscripts. The huge reading rooms of the library will be able to capacitate a whopping 550 people at a given time. The total shelf space that the books and other items take up will measure 45 kilometers or so.
Unearthing of a hidden chamber in the library
In the recent times, the National Library Kolkata came to the limelight in the year 2010. The library is now under the care of the Ministry of Culture. During the renovation of certain parts of the library, the workers discovered a passage that led to a hidden chamber. The room was located on the ground-floor and measures a whopping 1000 sq. ft. It seems that the room was sealed off during the early renovation. The rumors are that the mysterious room was used by the British officer Warren Hastings for torturing the Indians.
Hauntings in the library
Another aspect of the library is that has been attracting the paranormal researchers and people who are interested in ghost sightings. Rumors have it that the library is the hot spot for many supernatural activities. It has been reported that the books are found open on the reading tables though the librarians say that they had placed all books on the shelves. The restricted section is also a supposed to be a hot paranormal hotspot on the property.
Many people experience an eerier feeling in the area. A recent event that happened in the library shocked the residents of the city. One morning it was found that the floors were folded with water. When the plumbers were called, and the drainage system was checked, none of the pipes were found to be damaged. The local ghost hunting communities in the city often organize tours for the supernatural enthusiast of the city and the tourists as well. So, be it a book or a chilling out of the world sensation, you will get in in the halls of this unique library.
Featured Photo by Octobit