If you’ve never seen the large circular red building while driving down Pantheon Road in Egmore, then you’ve definitely missed this library. Originally a part of The Pantheon (where the name for the road comes from), the Connemara Public Library was part of a series of buildings that shared space but different architectural styles from Indo-Saracenic and Gothic to Neo-Byzantine, Rajput, Mughal, and Dravidian architecture.
Named after Lord Connemara, the former Governor of Madras, the library only asked for a small deposit from their members to use the facilities. In 1973, a new building was added to the library to comprise a huge collection of books. Today, the Connemara Public Library is one of the largest in Asia (offering over 600,000 books) along with being one of four National Depository Libraries (these libraries receive copies of all books, newspapers, and periodicals published in the country). It also serves as a depository library for the United Nations.
The interiors are mesmerising with every inch of wood in the library having been designed with leaves and flowers. Even on the tall pillars, you can find intricate design work. You can relax in one of the reading rooms here, with the light spilling through the glasswork adding to the whole experience. While the library was originally only one floor, with the increase in books and demand, an adjoining three-storied building was constructed to accommodate all of the books that the library now has.
They've also added a Microfilm Unit, air-conditioning (because the Chennai summers are so unforgiving) and by 2016, the Connemara Public Library also had eBooks available for members. The library is open from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm (Mondays to Saturdays) and from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm (on Sundays), and you can access the entire catalogue online. You can even become a member by paying an annual subscription of just INR 50. This is for anyone who is over 17 years of age and with that, you can borrow books, renew borrowed books and reserve books from OPAC. All you have to do is give them proof of your name and address and get the signature of a gazetted government officer.