The library houses more than 3 lakh books and around 300 periodicals and newspapers.

109 years and counting Bengalurus State Central Librarys treasures still draw bibliophiles
news Institutions Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 11:35

If you happen to stumble across a quaint red building at the edge of Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park, have no doubts, it is the State Central Library. While the library is quite striking with its Gothic-style architecture and mind boggling number of books, it continues to serve as a reference library with no borrowing allowed.

Has it always been a reference library? Apparently, not. The colonial beauty was constructed in 1908 in memory of Sir Seshadri Iyer (Diwan of Mysore) for his service and allegiance to the British Raj. It began functioning as a public library with 4750 books and 215 members in the year 1915.

The Karnataka Government took over the library in 1966 and converted the public library into the State Central Library in 1986, where it was opened to the public only for consultation of the documents within its premises.

"We have a lot of valuable books which cannot be allowed for borrowing to the public. That is why we don't have a circulation system in place" said Dr Satish Kumar, Director, Department of Public Libraries.

But that doesn't seem to deter bibliophiles from flocking to the library. Around 450 to 500 people visit the library every day. Housing more than 3 lakh books and around 300 periodicals and newspapers, it also has a section of rare volumes. But most of the people use the library for academic purposes, especially to prepare for competitive exams.

"I come to the library very often. Whenever I get free time I come here because I am preparing for competitive exams and this is a very calm place to study. Whatever books you want, you get it here" said Sharada, a UPSC aspirant who has been visiting the library for the past one year. However, she feels that it would be better if the library could extend its timings to 9 or 10pm as it would allow more time for her to stay and read.

Currently, the library timings are from 8.30am to 7.30 pm and it remains closed on Mondays, second Tuesdays and other government holidays.

Apart from sections like History, Political Science, Mathematics, Agriculture, Religion and so forth, it has books under a separate Braille section. Every one of the 802 books under this section is complemented by an audio CD, or a ‘talking book’. “The Braille section was inaugurated last month on World Book Day to make valuable books more accessible to the blind. Around 5-10 people visit the section every day,” said Satish. In addition to this, the State Central Library encloses a children’s library named after Indira Gandhi with over 5000 books.

One of the other reasons why people seem to love the library is because of the quiet and serenity it offers.  “I visit the library at least thrice a week. It’s so peaceful that I never want to leave,” confessed Sujith, an engineering student from Bangalore.

"I come here almost every day. Even during exam time, I come and study here because there is a studious atmosphere and people will be studying," said Priya Jarali, a textile engineering student.


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