The National Library of India does not require introduction to bookworms and book lovers. One of the finest, most beautiful and most prized national treasures of the country, the National Library is situated on the Belvedere Estate of Alipur, one of the finest and magnificent areas of Kolkata. It is the largest library in India by size and public record and is under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The library was built for the purpose of collecting, preserving and publishing printed materials produced within the country.
The National Library was formed as a outcome of the merger of the Calcutta Public Library and the Imperial Library. At that time the National Library and the Imperial Library had many Indian and British addresses and were also open to the general public. It has a collection of titles, books and magazines in all Indian languages while its special collection includes no less than 15 languages. The Indian Division has books dating back to the nineteenth century and includes the first books printed in this language. The collection also contains 3,200 manuscripts and 86,000 maps.
Kolkata National Library Assessment
Not surprisingly, the National Library has an astonishing net worth. Located in Alipore, it is part of the original 30-acre Belvedere in Kolkata. While taking the property completely into account will be of incredible value, let’s consider the total area included in the buildings, which is 62,825,153 square feet. Assuming a price point of Rs 20,000 per sq ft, which is the standard market price for any property on Belvedere Road, the estimated value of the buildings alone is Rs 1,25,65,03,000 which is approximately one hundred twenty five crores and Sixty-five million one thousand rupees. Of course, it goes without saying that given any historical, cultural and social value, its price would be higher than any attempt to determine any market value.
National Library of Kolkata: A History
The Imperial Library was built before the National Library and in 1893 by incorporating several secretarial libraries in Kolkata (then Calcutta). It was the most interesting and important library of the Home Office, with many rare titles already in the possession of the Library of Fort William, the College of Eastern India and the East India Council in London. However, the use of this royal library remained limited to high-ranking officials of the administrative government. Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was appointed Chairman of the Imperial Library Board in 1910 and donated his own collection to the Foundation covering 80,000 books, which were also placed in a specific section.
After independence, the Government of India renamed the Imperial Library the National Library and moved the collection from the Esplanade to the current Belvedere estate and they opened it to the public on 1 February 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Attendees included BC Roy, BS Kesavan, SS Bhatnagar, HC Mukherjee and Humayun Kabir.
Kolkata National Library: Interesting Facts
There are many interesting facts about the National Library that many people are not familiar with. These include the following:
In 2010 a hidden room was discovered by the Ministry of Culture. The ministry was on the verge of restoring the building with the help of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and while evaluating the library building, the engineers discovered a secret room on the ground. Flooring area of 1,000 square meters. The leg, which apparently had no opening and was previously unknown.
The ASI could not find any trap or escape route from this room in the area of the first floor. This led to much speculation that this room was formerly a torture chamber or decorating room used by British officials, including Warren Hastings, or a room using treasures. In fact, officials announced in 2011 that in an effort to stabilize the structure, the room was completely filled with mud.
The National Library is the largest in India with a collection of over 2.2 million books.
It was once the official residence of the ruler of Bengal.
It was established as the Calcutta Public Library and remained a non-governmental organization (NGO) when it started in Esplanade in East Calcutta in the year 1836.