National Library of India

The National Library of India is a library located in the Belvedere Estate, Alipore, Kolkata, India.[3] It is India's largest library by volume and public record.[4][5][6] The National Library is under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The library is designated to collect, disseminate and preserve printed material produced within India. With a collection in excess of 2.5 million books and records, it is the largest in the country.[7]

National Library of India
Façade of the National Library of India
22°32′00″N 88°20′00″E / 22.533206°N 88.333318°E / 22.533206; 88.333318
LocationBelvedere Estate, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
TypeNational library
Established1836; 188 years ago (1836) (as Calcutta Public Library)
30 January 1903; 121 years ago (1903-01-30) (as Imperial Library)
1 February 1953 (71 years ago) (1953-02-01) (as National Library of India)
Items collectedbooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and manuscripts
Other information
Budget74 crore (US$8.9 million)[1]
DirectorDr. Prof. Ajay Pratap Singh[2]
Parent organizationGovernment of India
AffiliationMinistry of Culture

The Imperial Library


The Imperial Library was formed in 1891 by combining a number of Secretariat libraries in Calcutta. Of those, the most important and interesting was the library of the Home Department, which contained many books formerly belonging to the library of East India College, Fort William and the library of the East India Board in London. But, the use of the library was restricted to the superior officers of the Government.[8] Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was appointed as the president of imperial library council (1910) to which he donated his personal collection of 80,000 books arranged in a separate section.[9]

Declaring the Imperial Library as the National Library

Formal opening of the National Library, c. 1 February 1953. Among those present are (from left to right) B. C. Roy, Maulana Azad, HC. Mukherjee, SS Bhatnagar, Humayun Kabir, and BS Kesavan.

After independence the Government of India changed the name of the Imperial Library to the National Library by Imperial Library (Change of Name) Act, 1948, and the collection was transferred from The Esplanade to the present Belvedere Estate.[10] On 1 February 1953 the National Library was opened to the public by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.[11] The name of National Library was changed to National Library of India by section 18 of the National Library of India Act, 1976.[12]

The library collects book, periodicals, and titles in virtually all the Indian languages while the special collections in the National Library of India house at least fifteen languages.[13] The Hindi department has books that date back all the way to the nineteenth century and the first ever books printed in that language. The collections break down and consist of 86,000 maps and 3,200 manuscripts.[13]

National Library

Discovery of hidden chamber


In 2010, the Ministry of Culture, the owner of the library, decided to get the library building restored by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). While taking stock of the library building, the conservation engineers discovered a previously unknown room. The secret ground-floor room, about 1000 sq. ft. in size, seems to have no opening of any kind.[14]

The ASI archaeologists tried to search the first floor area (that forms the ceiling of the room) for a trap door, but found nothing. Since the building is of historical and cultural importance, ASI has decided to bore a hole through the wall instead of breaking it. There are speculations about the room being a punishment room used by Warren Hastings and other British officials,[15] or a place to store treasure.[14]

In 2011, the researchers announced that the room was filled entirely with mud, probably in an effort to stabilize the building.[16]



The National Library is located on Belvedere Road in Alipore. It is open between 9 am and 8 pm on all working days and between 9.30 am and 6.00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Government of India holidays.[3]


  1. ^ "India Ministry of Culture Budget: National Library" (PDF).
  2. ^ Das, Soumya (16 July 2016). "National Library in Kolkata facing acute staff shortage". The Hindu.
  3. ^ a b "Useful Information". National Library.
  4. ^ "Largest Library in India - National Library Kolkata".
  5. ^ "Progress To Be Made In National Library, Kolkata". 16 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Digitization of Manuscripts of the National Library of India, CDNLAO Newsletter 47". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  7. ^ "National Library Kolkata - National Public Library - Book Library of Kolkata - My CityPedia". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  8. ^ "National Library". Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  9. ^ "How are Mir Jafar and Lord Curzon associated with Kolkata's National Library?". Get Bengal. 5 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  10. ^ "History of the National Library: From the Imperial Library to the National Library". National Library of India. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  11. ^ "National Library". Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  12. ^ "National Library of India Act, 1976" (PDF). India Code. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  13. ^ a b Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library an Illustrated History. Chicago: ALA Editions. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-602-39706-4.
  14. ^ a b Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey (22 November 2010). "Secret chamber in National Library". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Haunted Library of Kolkata: রাত বাড়লে অন্দরমহলে দাঁড়াতেও ভয় পান প্রহরীরা! লাইব্রেরীর অন্দর থেকে যেন আজও ভেসে আসে গর্ভনরের স্ত্রী কান্না". The Bengali Chronicle (in Bengali). 17 June 2022. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  16. ^ Debaleena Sengupta (22 May 2011). "Room With No View". Business Standard India. Business Standard. Retrieved 22 May 2011.