There’s something romantic about libraries, and very rarely does it have anything to do with what you read. Romances through shelves, catch up sessions in long forgotten aisles, and sometimes, the discovery of a first edition of a favourite book. For those who are still trying to fight the digitalisation of society, or just want some quiet down time to finish a project, here are libraries in Delhi you can access.

Delhi Public Library

All you have to do is carry proof of residency {voter ID, Ration card}, to show you’re a Delhi resident. The library is free of charge, and houses up to 16 lakh books, across languages, including English, Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. As for genres, expect competitive examination books, books pertaining to law, philosophy, religion, medical science, engineering, literature, and fiction. We hear they have a stellar collection of books authored by early Indian writers, and that too, in excellent shape. If you do want to borrow, you’ll have to sign up to be a member at INR 20, after which you’ll be issued a borrower card.

Where: There is a DPL in the South, East, North, West and Centre, find out nearest you, here.  

Price: Access is free of charge, membership at INR 20.

The American Library

General public has free access to the library, in case you’re just looking for some quiet down time. But, a membership will entitle you to borrow up to four books, two back issues of periodicals and two DVD’s. A member is also allowed access to library accounts online, to create search lists, renew material and place hold requests for material available. Membership is open to anyone over the age of 16, and you will require proper photo identification. As for borrowing, you can ask for loans online, in person and even request an inter library loan, from libraries in different states. Also-free Wi-Fi within the library! Apply for membership, here. 

Where: American Center, 24 Kasturba Gandhi Marg; Contact: 01123472000

Timings: Monday-Saturday, 11am – 6pm

Price: Individual at INR 400/year, families at INR 500/year

British Council Library India

Any UK return student will know the drill all too well. The British Council Library requires you to enroll as a member, which will entitle you to more than 85,000 online academic books and 14,000 e-journals online. Moreover, membership ensures you’re invited to workshops, seminars, and events. They have a plethora of membership plans, that differ in terms of validity, fees, borrowing rules and access. Choose one here. 

Where: British Council Division, 17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg; Contact: 18001024353

Timings: Monday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm

Price: Starts at INR 1000

Enroll to be a member, here. 

India Habitat Centre – Habitat Library and Resource Centre

The Habitat library is open only to members, and the staff isn’t very well equipped to guide you or provide any real, useful information. The library itself offers a range of resources, including newspapers, electronic newspapers, internet, multimedia, videos, music and books. The books aren’t exhaustive; look at this as a quiet place to be able to get some work done. If you are a member.

Where: Vardman Marg, Institutional Area, Lodhi Colony

Timings: 11.00 am – 7.30 pm

Contact: 011 4366 3333

The Japan Foundation Library

If you’re a manga fan, you’ve just found a fan club. This particular library is country specific, and provides reference services for the collection, and research info related to Japan, and international cultural exchange. You are entitled to borrow, use available multimedia tools, and photocopy. Membership is open to all, provided you’re a Delhi/NCR resident. In case you only want to use the library for a day or two, ask for a daily membership card. Find out more, here. 

Where: 5A, Ring Road, Lajpat Nagar 4; Contact: 0112644-2967/68/71/72

Price: INR 300/year

Nehru Memorial Library {Teen Murti Library}

At their nominal membership fee, don’t expect some grade A service or information. Relatively well-stocked, they’re open seven days a week and will definitely deliver, if you’re looking for an old school library and some down time. Lending is allowed, and a fine is charged if and when you lose the book. Membership will involve you physically visiting and having a card issued. Old school. We told you.

 Where: Teen Murti Bhawan; Contact: 01123017599

Timings: 9am – 5pm {on Saturday}, 9am – 6.30pm {Monday through Friday}

Price: INR 500/year

Sahitya Kala Akademi Library

One of the most important and well-stocked libraries in the city is the Akademi Library. It has books in Hindi, English and 24 other languages that students, researchers and almost anyone can come and refer to. Apart from issuing books, they also have a photocopying and scanning facility, in case you need hard or soft copies of any information. They mainly focus on cultural and historical books that are related to the cultural and social history of the country. We hope you visit and take advantage of the privilege.

Where: Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road

Timings: 9.30am to 6.30pm

Price:  A deposit of INR 50 to be made for a temporary membership of 15 days

Contact: 91-11-23386626/27/28

You can find complete information and procedure here.

Shastri Bhavan

The Central Secretariat Library has a large collection of books and documents. It is only second to the other national literary treasure that is in Calcutta. Most ministries and government departments take information from the library, but you too can become a casual member. It has a great stock of encyclopedias and dictionaries. Interestingly, they also have a set of microfilm US Govt. docs for those who like to keep up with politics.

Where: Central Secretariat Library, G. Wing,  Shastri Bhawan

Timings: 9am to 6pm , Monday to Friday

Price: Casual members can enrol themselves with an ID proof

Find more information here.

Parliamentary Library

Established in 1921, it is a repository of books that are meant for research purposes, research scholars and other legislative members. It’s the second largest library in the country and you can access it by completing the form that is present on the website. They also have a digital library that is in collaboration with other international journals and publications.

Where: Gokul Nagar, Central Secretariat

Price: Download form here.

Contact: 23034295, 23017450

Archaeological Survey of India

Established in 1902, the collection of books at the library is around 1,00,000, which consists of books, documents and journals. They have information on History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Epigraphy & Numismatics, Indology, Literature, Geology, etc. They also have a fantastic collection of rare books and artwork that you can’t generally see in galleries. The Dewelly Decimal System is used to structure or organise the books here. Anyone can use the library for reference purposes.

Where: Central Archaeological Library, Second Floor, National Archives Annexe, Janpath

Timings: 10am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday

Price: free of cost for reference

Contact: +91-011-23387475

National Gallery of Modern Art

The library here comprises books on design and art and all forms of the same. Ranging from graphic to paintings, from various ages, the NGMA library caters to all those interested in and/or learning art. The Art Reference and Documentation Centre subscribes to 32 art journals and magazines, take a look when you go visit.

Where: National Gallery of Modern Art,(Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India), Jaipur House

Timings: 10am to 4.30pm

Price: Contact library directly since anyone can access for reference.

Contact: 23382835, 23388874

Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts

This a digital and reference library that has been named Kala Nidhi. The online catalogue allows you to peruse what you need and subsequently you can even apply for membership. In fact the library is open to all, though researchers and scholars receive special facilities. The best part about the library is that it allows you to refer to the books free of cost for a week, following which you have to pay a nominal charge of INR250 per year.

Where:11 Man Singh Road

Timings: 9.30am to 7.30pm, Mondays Closed

Price: Check out prices here.

Contact: 91-11-23388333, 23385884

Dayal Singh Public Library

Initially established in Lahore, DSPL was moved to our very own city by the Dayal Singh Trust Society. The library has a collection of 40,000 books, in the subject areas of literature, social sciences and the liberal arts. It subscribes to 100 different magazines and 32 different newspapers, so you can get your daily dose of culture and current affairs. The library also has audio and video equipment for those who need them.

Where: 1, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, Minto Road, Beside University Grants Commission, ITO

Timings: 9.30am – 5.30pm

Price: INR 500 onwards. Find more info here.

Contact:  2323 4907, 2323 7364 and 2323 9365

Dr. BC Roy Children’s Reading Room and Library

Established by renowned cartoonist Shankar Pillai, the library has a collection of 40,000 books, covering a variety of subjects that could be of interest to kids {especially science, art and culture, mythology etc}. The library has an open access system through which any child can gain membership. There are two kinds of membership: Normal and Special, and members are issued ID cards for future use. All kids between the ages of 5 and 18 can use the facility of this library. Ah! We wish we were kids.

Where: Nehru House, 4, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg

Timings: 9.30am to 5pm, Open all days.

Price: Special membership is INR 1250 {INR 1000 deposit} and a normal membership is INR 650 {INR 500 deposit}

Contact: 91-11-23316970/74

Find more information here.

International Cultural Centers

Delhi is the hotbed of culture and has a number of international centers with events and exhibitions. Most of these centers also  have libraries that are easily accessible. In fact, they are meant to be accessed by us common folk. We checked out Max Mueller Bhavan and Cervantes for you, and we recommend them as must-visits. Find out more about the same here.


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