Oldest Library in India

Oldest Library in India

Libraries are some of the most important places that any city can have. They allow people to gain access to books and other forms of literature that they may not be able to access elsewhere, and they give people the chance to discover reading in new and exciting ways! 

In this article, we’re going to look more closely at some of the oldest libraries in India, along with a couple of tidbits about their respective histories. Let’s dive right into it! 

5. Delhi Public Library

Year established: 27 October 1951
Location of the library: Delhi, India
Items in the library: Periodicals, Braille books, gramophone records, paintings, digital media, books, newspapers, and magazines.
Open to the public: Yes

The Delhi Public Library is another one of India’s national depository libraries, which started back in 1951. This library has 37 branches throughout the state, and was established as a project by UNESCO. After the government of India took the initiative and began the project, the library was opened in 1951. 

Did you know?

The Delhi Public Library has over 165,000 registered members who borrow books on a regular basis!

4. Connemara Public Library

Year established: 5th December, 1896
Location of the library: Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 
Items in the library: Manuscripts, Braille books, academic journals
Open to the public: Yes

Connemara Public LibraryPhoto Source: Wikipedia

The Connemara Public Library is one of India’s National Depository Libraries and is also one of the oldest known libraries in the country. It was established in the late 19th century by Captain Jesse Mitchell. Mitchell started a small library in Madras as part of the Madras Museum after hundreds of extra books were found at Haileybury College. Those books were sent to the government of Madras, who donated them to the museum. However, there were so many books that the need for a public library arose. 

Later on, Lord Connemara, the governor of Madras, opened the Connemara Public Libary, and it was named after him. 

Did you know?

Since this library is one of four National Depository Libraries and it comes under the Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act 1954, every single publisher in India must send a copy of their work to this library.

3. The National Library of India

Year established: 1836
Location of the library: Belvedere Estate, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Items in the library: Manuscripts, sound and music recordings, academic journals, patents, maps, and stamps
Open to the public: Yes

The National Library of IndiaPhoto Source: Wikipedia

Located in West Bengal, the National Library of India is one of the oldest libraries in the country and is also the largest library in all of India. It currently has around 2.5 million records and books, making its collection bigger than any other library in India. It contains books and works of literature in nearly every Indian language, and the special collections portion of the library contains works in around 15 Indian languages.

Did you know?

The National Library of India came into existence after the public library merged with the Imperial Library.

2. Trivandrum Public Library

Year established: 1829
Location of the library: Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Items in the library: Newspapers, books, periodicals
Open to the public: Yes

Trivandrum Public LibraryPhoto Source: Wikipedia

The Trivandrum Public Library, also known as the State Central Library, Kerala, is a public library located in Trivandrum and was established during King Swathi Thirunal of Travancore’s reign. 

Did you know?

When the library was first established, only members of the rich and privileged classes were allowed to visit the library and use it.

1. The Saraswathi Mahal Library

Year established: 16th century
Location of the library: Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu 
Items in the library: Manuscripts and books
Open to the public: Yes

The Saraswathi Mahal LibraryPhoto Source: Wikipedia

The Saraswathi Mahal Library is the oldest known library in India and is also one of the oldest libraries in Asia! Located in modern-day Tanjore, this library is widely known for its collection of palm leaf manuscripts, Sanskrit and Tamil manuscripts, and indigenous language books. There are over 49,000 volumes available in this library, and it has even been called the most remarkable library in India. 

Did you know

The Nayak Kings of Thanjavur started the Saraswathi Mahal Library. It was originally a royal library meant only for the royal families of Tanjore to stimulate their intellect. When the Maratha rulers captured Tanjore in 1675, they developed the library even more. They hired several Pandits to buy many works of literature to add them to the library’s collection.


In this article, we walked you through a list of the oldest libraries in India. Each library has interesting history and story, and is definitely worth visiting if you ever decide to make a trip to India! 

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