National Library of India


The National Library of India is a library located in
Belvedere Estate The Belvedere Estate consists of Belvedere House and the grounds surrounding it, in which the National Library of India The National Library of India is a library located in Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also ...
Alipore Alipore (Pron:ˌɑ:lɪˈpɔ:) is a neighbourhood in South Kolkata in Kolkata district in the Indian state of West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali language, Bengali: ''Paschim Banga'' ) is a States and union territories of India, state in ...
Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , List of renamed Indian cities and states#West Bengal, the official name until 2001) is the Capital city, capital of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of West Bengal. Located on ...
, India. It is India's largest library by volume and
public record Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential and generally pertain to the conduct of government. For example, in California, when a couple fills out a marriage license application, they have the option ...
. The National Library is under
Ministry of Culture A culture minister or a heritage minister is a common cabinet position in government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associat ...
, Government of India. The library is designated to collect, disseminate and preserve printed material produced within India. With a collection in excess of 2.2 million books and records, it is the largest in the country. Before independence, it was the official residence of
Governor-General of India The Governor-General of India (1773-1950, from 1858 to 1947 the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, commonly shortened to Viceroy of India) was the representative of the monarch of the United Kingdom and after Indian Independence Act 1947, ...
. 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. 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. 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.


The Imperial Library

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 The East India Company College, or East India College, was an educational establishment situated at Hailey, Hertfordshire, nineteen miles north of London, founded in 1806 to train "writers" (administrators) for the East India Company, Honourable Eas ...
, 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. Sir
Ashutosh Mukherjee Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee CSI, FRSE, FRAS, FPSL, MRIA (anglicised, originally Asutosh Mukhopadhyay, also anglicised to Asutosh Mookerjee) (29 June 1864 – 25 May 1924) was a prolific Bengali educator, jurist, barrister and mathematician. He w ...
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

After independence the Government of India changed the name of the Imperial Library to the National Library by ''Imperial Library (Change of Name) Act, 1948'', and the collection was transferred from The Esplanade to the present
Belvedere Estate The Belvedere Estate consists of Belvedere House and the grounds surrounding it, in which the National Library of India The National Library of India is a library located in Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also ...
. On 1 February 1953 the National Library was opened to the public by
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al- Hussaini Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was an Indian scholar, Islamic theologian, independence activist, and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress The Ind ...
. The name of ''National Library'' was changed to ''National Library of India'' by section 18 of the ''National Library of India Act, 1976''.

Discovery of hidden chamber

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. 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 Warren Hastings (6 December 1732 – 22 August 1818), an English statesman, was the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and thereby the first ''de facto'' Governor-General of Ben ...

Warren Hastings
and other British officials, or a place to store treasure. In 2011, the researchers announced that the room was filled entirely with mud, probably in an effort to stabilize the building.


The National Library is located on Belvedere Road in Alipore. 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. It remains closed on three national holidays, 26 January (Republic Day), 15 August (Independence Day) and 2 October (Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi).


External links

National Library of India
{{Authority control
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...
Culture of Kolkata Libraries in Kolkata Buildings and structures in Kolkata Education in Kolkata Alipore