The scenic campus of the Belvedere Estate welcomed us to the abode of books. This is the largest library in India with more than 2 million books. The library was set up in 1836 and was then known as the Calcutta Public Library. Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, the grandfather of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, had been the first person to own a proprietorship of the library having donated a princely sum of Rs.300. Back in those days as well, the library was quite famous because of the fact that it was efficiently run and very well organized. The building was modelled on the Town Hall at Ypres. After a couple of name changes, the National Library was thrown open to the common public.
The library stocks books and magazines from all languages in India. The various languages are separated into divisions and arranged accordingly. Apart from the spoken languages in India the library has a good collection of books in ancient languages of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali. All books published in India are collected by the library under the Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act 1954. Right from the days of the Calcutta Public Library, serious works in English Literature were purchased in huge numbers. The trend has been continuing till date.
As far as foreign languages are concerned, there is a huge collection as well. Separate divisions responsible for each division collect and organise data related to the particular language. The Rare Books division which was established in 1973 stocks limited editions of rare books, microfilms and manuscripts. The kids were especially interested to go through the collection on science and technology, which had an open stack system with reading facilities for the readers. Official documents related to the publications of Indian as well as foreign governments provide detailed information about world politics.
The knowledge that one gains by reading a variety of books at the Indian Museum is unparalleled. We have been trying to inculcate the habit of reading in the kids since their childhood and now they are both avid readers with reading as their favourite hobby. We moved to the next and last stop for the day, Victoria Memorial Museum.