Too broke to buy new books to read? Worry not, these libraries in Kolkata have all the books you ever wanted to access, read and borrow.
Five Libraries To Go To Right Now To Rekindle The Bookworm In You
The British Council Library
British Council Library not only houses thousands of books, DVDs and periodicals, it also has an extensive online digital library of books and films alike, for when you can’t leave home. Watch out for the plethora of events they host throughout the year, including film screenings, talks by eminent personalities, summer camps and a lot more. Choose from a range of membership options – individual membership (INR 1,800 a year), family membership (INR 3,800 a year), online membership (INR 1,400 a year) and corporate membership (INR 10,000 a year). They have excellent magazines on sports, cricket, art, design and travel. Love the annual sale they hold every year where they clear out stocks – you’ll find books for as low as INR 50 and DVDs for INR 20.
The National Library
We’d go here just for the amazing green and open 30-acre space it is located in. Also because it is the biggest library in India (and one of the oldest). Established in 1936, it boasts of a collection of more than 21,00,000 books including digitised books, maps, periodicals, manuscripts etc. The best part is that membership here is free of cost, all you need is be above 18 years of age to register in the lending division and access the huge archive of books. Some of their digitised resources are even accessible online.
All things Uncle Sam – from American history, international relations, economics, business, social sciences to American literature, that’s what you will get here. The American Library or United States Information Services (USIS), stocks thousands of publications, periodicals, and even US government (and think tank) reports. They also have eLibraryUSA- a virtual library with digital access to databases like Gale, Encyclopedia Britannica, eBrary, CQ and others. Their enrolment fees are just INR 400 a year and INR 700 for two years, and membership is open to anyone above the age of 14 years.
Searching for rare manuscripts and historical archives? Head to the Asiatic Society. Situated in the heart of the city in Park Street, it is one of the oldest libraries in India. Don’t be put off by the gloomy and drab interiors – it has books, periodicals and manuscripts and some rare museum objects too. The books range from the latter half of the 15th century A.D. (some are works unavailable elsewhere) to ones from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Unfortunately, they are not open to memberships, but you can always seek special permission to access their reading rooms for a definite period of time.
Library at Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
Not only does this library have books, rare archives and journals stocked in the thousands, this is the place to come to if you wish to access an extensive database of lectures and music recitals recorded and archived through the years. This library has three wings, the General Library, Children’s Library and Junior Library; all with different membership rules, fees and privileges. Adults can access the General Library with an annual fee of INR 240 only or acquire a lifetime membership for INR 3,000.