India National Library: A Treasure Trove of Knowledge in Kolkata

If you are a book lover or a student of history, then a visit to the India National Library in Kolkata should be on top of your list. The library is one of the largest in the country and boasts an impressive collection of books, manuscripts, and archives. In this article, we will explore the history of the India National Library, its vast collection, and the various services it offers to its visitors.

History of India National Library

The India National Library, formerly known as the Imperial Library, was established in 1836 by the British East India Company. The library was initially created to cater to the needs of the British officials residing in India. However, after India gained independence, the library was renamed and opened to the public in 1948.

Collection of India National Library

The India National Library has an extensive collection of over 2.2 million books, 86,000 manuscripts, and 3,000 periodicals. The library also has a vast collection of maps, photographs, and archives. The collection is spread across various sections such as Reference, Rare Books, Manuscripts, Periodicals, and Children’s Literature.

The Reference section is home to books on various subjects such as science, humanities, social sciences, and arts. The Rare Books section has books that are over a hundred years old and are not available in any other library in the country. The Manuscripts section has a collection of rare manuscripts, such as the Tarikh-i-Alai, which is a Persian manuscript that describes the reign of Sultan Alauddin Khalji. The Periodicals section has a collection of over 3,000 journals, magazines, and newspapers from across the world. The Children’s Literature section has books for children of all ages, including illustrated books and comics.

Services offered by India National Library

Apart from being a treasure trove of knowledge, the India National Library offers various services to its visitors. These services include:


The library offers membership to individuals, institutions, and organizations. The membership allows members to borrow books, access the reading room, and use the library’s various resources.

Reading Room

The library has a spacious reading room that can accommodate up to 400 readers at a time. The reading room is equipped with modern facilities such as air conditioning, internet connectivity, and CCTV cameras for security.

Digital Library

The library has a digital library that provides access to over 1.5 million digital resources such as e-books, e-journals, and databases. The digital library is accessible to members as well as non-members.

Conservation and Preservation

The library has a dedicated Conservation and Preservation Division that takes care of the library’s rare books, manuscripts, and archives. The division uses modern conservation techniques to preserve the library’s collection for future generations.


1. How do I become a member of the India National Library?

You can become a member of the India National Library by filling out a membership form and submitting it along with the required documents and fees.

2. Can I borrow books from the India National Library?

Yes, members of the library can borrow books from the library’s collection.

3. Are non-members allowed to access the India National Library?

Yes, non-members can access the library’s reading room and use the digital library.

4. Does the India National Library have a collection of rare books?

Yes, the library has a Rare Books section that has books that are over a hundred years old and are not available in any other library in the country.

5. What is the best time to visit the India National Library?

The library is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to


  • “India National Library.” Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Accessed April 7, 2023.
  • “India’s National Library: A Legacy of the British Raj.” BBC News, December 10, 2010. Accessed April 7, 2023.
  • “National Library Kolkata.” National Informatics Centre, Government of India. Accessed April 7, 2023.

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