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Connemara, the oldest public library was established in the year 1890. The biggest library encompasses appealing buildings and anybody can find out the library with its signature style of large circular red building. The library is situated in heart of the city, Chennai, Egmore.

The history behind Connemara library

There were innumerable books in the Hailey Bury College, Britain. The Indian civil servants were trained there; surplus books were in the college library. The people had no idea about the further usage of the books. So, they sent those books to the Madras Government, finally, the Government handed over the books to the Madras Museum. Governor Captain Jean Mitchell allotted a small place the library on the museum campus. Then it was called as British Museum Library. But, in 1890 the Governor Lord Connemara decided for a public library. In 1890, the library construction was started. In 1896, the library was officially inaugurated. As the Lord Connemara was the main root cause for the foundation, the library was named as “Connemara Public Library”.

Collection of books & periodicals in Connemara


books photoPhoto by caligula1995

Act 1954, Provision of Delivery of Books and Newspapers announced that every Indian publisher should send a copy of his publication to the Connemara library. The act helped to receive a huge collection of different publications.

Initially, the library had 40,000 books. But now more than 7, 00,000 books and 2, 00,000 periodicals are available. Over 10000 Tamil books are obtainable here. “Omnes Quae Extant” by D. Hieronymi Strido, is the oldest book in the library which was published in 1553. “Nyanamuramaigalin Vilakkam”, is the ancient Tamil book which was published in 1781. A 2 feet wide and 2.5 feet length Atlas contains India & Srilanka maps. The atlas was specifically designed and printed for Queen Victoria which stands as the largest book in the public library. The library collected many rare collections and preserved. Some of the books are:

  • 1608 – The bible edition
  • 1678 – Hortus Indicus Malabaricus edition
  • 1696 – Voyage to Surat edition
  • 1711 – Trading account in India edition
  • 1717 – Economy and learning edition etc.,
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In Connemara library, one can see various sections such as Reference, Periodicals, Textbook, Language, Book preservation etc,. The rare and old books, documents are scanned and preserved by the digitization section. Civil service preparing students could find a vast collection of competitive exam books, periodicals and old newspapers for their reference. This computerized library holds an online public access system which aids the readers to search, find the availability and the place of a book. This system makes the readers reserve and renew the books online. Besides, books and periodicals the library offers many Braille books and manuscripts.

The membership details

If you are 17 years and above then you can visit the library, refer books. In case of lending the books, then you should become a member of the library. Any dweller of Chennai can become a member in the library. The Membership process is quite easy. One should fill up the application form and submit to the librarian along with an address proof photocopy. Though the annual membership fee is 50, initially you should pay a refundable security deposit which depends on the number of books you lend from the library. The fee is for 2 books Rs.100, 4 books Rs.200 and 6 books Rs.300 charged.

The timings of the Connemara library

The library works between 9.00 AM to 7.30 PM daily. On Sundays, the working hours of the library is 9.30 AM to 6.00 PM. The Connemara Public Library remains closed on Tamil New Year, Pongal, Deepavali, and Christmas. Within a couple of weeks, the lent books should be returned.

Hundreds of voracious readers’ walk-in to the Connemara library to quench their reading thirst. Although we are in the digitalized world, still the books and periodicals help us to know more about the unknown facts.

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Photo by twechy

The Oldest Library Connemara – Chennai

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