The National Library is the first public library to be set up in the whole of eastern India. This is at present located on the Belvedere Road,Kolkata. Being the capital of the British East India Company, Kolkata was the hub of all intellectual and academic activities. There were scholarly activities, which necessitated the formation of libraries. Though there was the Calcutta Public Library, it was actually run on proprietary basis. The National Library is an integrated form of the libraries that functioned independently in the British era. Today the National Library is the biggest public library which has a collection of 22,70,950books along with a huge collection of manuscripts, newspapers and periodicals. This Library forms the nucleus of Kolkata`s intellectual craving.
Belvedere Road, Alipore, Calcutta 700027. Phone No. 2478-1381 to 2479-1383.
9 am–8 pm on all working days and from 9.30 am–6.00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Government of India holidays.
Entry Restrictions:Access to National Library main reading room (Bhasha Bhavan) is strictly controlled. You need to have an approved Reader’s pass to reading hall. For that you need to fill in an application form (available on the National Library website)and get it attested by a Government Gazetted officer. This a thoroughly cumbersome process. Moreover, to get your reader’s pass registered you need to be a very lucky person, because the offices of National Library, Kolkata enjoy one of the best official business hours. Reader’s passes are issued only between 11:00-13:00 and 15:00-16:00, Monday to Friday, excluding a string of National and State holidays. A three-hour working schedule something even volunteers will be ashamed of.Often interested readers will wonder why do you need so many restrictions to readers’ entry, since this is meant to be a National Library. Why can’t anyone be allowed an entrance with any of the nationally valid Identity cards, which are accepted in institutions like Indian Rail or voting authorities?
The National library was hence opened for the public on 1st February 1953, after an inauguration by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. From then, the National library continues to be the cynosure for all literary pursuit going on in Kolkata and it keeps the tradition alive. Going through the library shelves, one can find that there are exclusive divisions of Indian and Foreign language books and publications. Books, periodicals, journals and manuscripts of all the major Indian languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu etc. constitute the Indian language category. In the Sanskrit language division has rare Pali and Prakrit manuscripts. The Foreign language division has been categorized into sections like German Division, East Asian Division, Roman Division, West Asia, Slavonic Division, and African Division, all of which are replete with collection of books and manuscripts. It is the storehouse of the rare collection of the Indian official documents from the early days of the British Colonial rule till the present day. The National Library has the honor of being a repository library by the United Nations and its agencies. This enables the National Library to receive all United Nations publications free of cost from them. It also receives books and periodicals from the government of the United States of America and all other commonwealth countries. One can also spot major Indian newspapers, and periodicals dated back to even 19th and 20th centuries.
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, 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.
The National Library is the first public library to be put up in the complete of eastern India. This is at present located on the Belvedere Road, Kolkata. Being the capital of the British East India Company, Kolkata was the center of all thinker and academic activities. There were scholarly activities, which necessitated the configuration of libraries. Though there was the Calcutta Public Library, it was in fact run on proprietary basis. The National Library is an included form of the libraries that functioned alone in the British era. Today the National Library is the biggest public library which has a collection of 22,70,959 books along with a enormous collection of manuscripts, newspapers and periodicals. This Library forms the nucleus of Kolkata`s intellectual passion.
After the independence the Government of India changed the name of the Imperial Library as the National Library, and the collection was shifted from The Esplanade to the present Belvedere Estate. On February 1, 1953 the National Library was opened to the public.
Rare books, valuable manuscripts of the pre-British and British days, original letters and notes of eminent personalities, Tamil manuscripts on Ashutosh collection: Rare Books from 16th century including limited and paintings on mica plates, etc. manuscripts and original letters of eminent personalities, rare and special bindings. illuminated eidtions, paintings including original water colour paintings, palm-leaves.