National Library Kolkata was another place that I went to visit during my stay at Kolkata. It is the largest library in India and the second largest in Asia. Presently it is under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Government of India. The library is located at Belvedere Estate in Alipore, near the Alipore Zoo. Before the independence, it was the residence of Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. The library is open for the public on all days of the week from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. No entry fee is needed to enter the library.
I reached the library at 11 am after visiting Dakshuneswara temple, and was amazed at the large campus of the library, about 30 acres in area. The lawns and well maintained gardens surrounding it made it even more spectacular. The building was built in 1836 and is a fine example of British architecture with large spacious rooms and halls with high ceiling. Although there was a lot of noise outside with vehicles going in all directions, once you enter the library, it is calm and peaceful with no loud noise. The people moved about silently or talking in low voice and all were so immersed in examining the books and journals.
I found out from the staff in the library that it contained as many as 20, 00,000 books and 5,00,000 manuscripts. More than 18,000 readers visit the library. I also saw a collection of Indian news papers dating back to 19th and 20th centuries. You may find any book you need in the library. Admission to the reading room is free to any person above the age of 18 years. The reading room can accommodate 550 people at a time. Once you become a member in the library, you can borrow books for a period of 14 days. There are books of various Indian languages and you can visit a particular section to choose a book of your language. Here is also a wide collection of foreign books.
The staff in the library is very helpful and provides you with any information you need regarding the books and where they are placed.