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Connemara Public Library

Connemara Public Library

Full Description

Connemara Public Library at Chennai is one of the four National Depository Libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India. Established in 1896 the library is a repository of centuries-old publications, wherein lie some of the most respected works and collections in the country. It also serves as a depository library for the UN.

The library was as part of a cultural complex that grew in the grounds of what was once called ‘The Pantheon’. The entire complex now boasts buildings that reflect architectural unity, even while demonstrating the various stages of Indo-Saracenic development, from Gothic-Byzantine to Rajput Mughal and Southern Hindu Deccani.

The new building, which was added to the Library in 1973, has a vast collection of books, a much sought after text-book section, a periodicals hall, a reference room, a video room, an entire floor for books from the Indian languages, a Braille Library and an IAS study centre.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to say that it has been for a long time, the wish of my collegues and myself to see a free public library established in Madras; we have recognized it for a long time as one of the most urgent wants of the educated people of this Presidency Town. In all populous places a free public library is a very great boon, and I am quite sure that where a great number of students and educated natives of India have not got the means of providing themselves with the books that one needed for their study, in their business, a want of this kind is very deeply felt. I trust that this want will be supplied by the free public library of the building of which I am now going to lay the foundation stone.

I heard it very often said that one of the reasons why our students who have distinguished themselves in minor degrees and in minor stations of life, literature, arts an science, do not come to attain the higher degree of the Master of Arts and other degrees of that character, is that they cannot afford to buy the books to enable them to complete their study. I hope, therefore, that in this library those books will be found and also books of various kinds which shall enable them to study in their higher branches of literature and science. But beyond all this, I hope that there will be a free public library and that young man and old men, possibly ladies, may come here and enjoy the pleasure of literature and reading for its own sake”.

The objectives of the library was thus outlined by Lord Connemara – the then Governor of Madras during 1886-1890 –– while laying the foundation stone for the Connemara Public Library on 22nd March, 1890.

While Connemara Library caters to the needs of all kinds of book lovers the mammoth construction also deserves a very special attention. The stately building is built in Indo – Saracenic style and it is very rare to come across a building of this type in the present day context. Hundred years after its construction the buildings still continues to evoke awe and respect in us when we just look at the marvelous construction

Designed by H.Irvin, the then consulting Architect to the Government of Madras, the Connemara Public Library was constructed as a semi-circle end oblong building. le. It is a magnificent hall with a splendid reading room and beautiful teakwood book shelves. Its ceiling is pretty to look at. The roof is truncated semi-circle. The truncated top has a wooden ceiling. But the two curved sides are made of colored glass pieces artistically cemented to one another. Ornamental acanthus leaves and flowers adorn the pillars, windows and bookshelves. The flooring is done with marble slabs brought from Krishna District (Andhra Pradesh) through the Buckingham canal, in boats.

Its huge semi circular entrance, the beauty and elegance of the reading rooms, Book racks made out of the costliest teak wood attract the attention of all the irrespective of their background. . The cost of the construction in those days was whopping amount of Rs. 5, 75,000.

In order to cope with the expected inflow of books and increasing visitors who would visit in consequence of the new Madras Public Libraries Act of 1948, a mezzanine teakwood flooring was added in 1952 at a cost of Rs. 1, 30,000 for accommodating readers. The ground floor thus released was provided with steel racks at a cost of

Rs.30, 000 to accommodate books.

So in this way having about 20,080 feet of shelving space and about 27,000 sq.feet of floor space, it accommodates about 2, 50,000 volumes on its shelves ..


Connemara Public Library

Pantheon Road






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