Reader’s haven completes 100 years

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The Central Library

Stephen Neil Gershom
NSoJ Bureau

The state Central Library, located at Cubbon Park, completed 100 years since establishment. It has undergone a revamp as part of the celebration and recently reopened to the public. 75 percent of the revamp cost was taken care of by the National Mission on libraries and the remaining was managed by the state government. As part of the centennial celebrations, the State Central Library has also introduced their official song and has also released a book named Shathamanada Belaku, which is a collection of the greatest literary, informative and famous articles of the last century.

The history of the building in itself is very fascinating. A report released by the state Library said, Lord Nathaniel Curzon, the erstwhile Viceroy of India during the British Raj, impressed with Diwan Sri Seshadri Iyer and his services to the British Raj decided to honour the Mysore Diwan. Sir Curzon wrote to Sir Donald Robertson asking him to build the Sir Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall which was built in 1908 and in 1914 Diwan Sri M Visveswariah donated the building to state public library. The  building was opened as a public library on May 1, 1915. It was taken over by the Karnataka State Government in 1966 after which it was established as the Central Library in Karnataka.

It stands out as one of the most beautiful and iconic structures in Bengaluru. The vivid red colonial building having natural surroundings of lush greenery creates a perfect setting to allure passers-by who are welcomed by a large rose garden right at the building’s entrance. The structure hints at a classic European style of architecture as it possesses Tuscan and Corinthian columns standing at the entrance of the building. The architectural beauty goes up a notch with the artistically designed columns; square based white pillars with a beam of painted red acanthus leaves growing around a votive basket at the top. This design is of a Greek origin.

When looked upon the interiors of the building, it is rather impressive, a setting of wooden furniture dominating the 300 square metre area. The furnished seating arrangements are adjacent to the enquiry desk, on either side of which are a set of steps to reach the 1st floor of haven for bibliophiles. The books sit conveniently in the numerous sections of the grand wooden bookshelves arranged in an arched pattern of rows on the ground floor and a huge semi-circular pattern on the first floor on either sides of the library.  One can lose herself in reading a novel seated in passage-ways between the bookshelves.

One notices signs of modern interiors through glass and steel railings placed at the edges of the top floor and on the sides of the staircases. The walls are painted in cream on which are plastered columns and rows enhancing the look further. The glass-green windows brilliantly synchronize with the lawn colour outside and the contrasting monument red. On the inner side of the second floor parapet, there are photos of important personalities in the history. Light-bulbs hang from the ceiling, an olden way compared to the wall stuck tube lights. Overall, the library has a very polished yet simple look, providing the reader with an ideal environment to sit and read in.

M N Nithyanandan, who has-been a regular at the library for more than two years said, “The state Central Library is an ocean of knowledge, as books on pretty much anything can be found here”. The library currently houses 3,14,848 books, pertaining to the various tastes and genres different readers prefer. The number is increasing by the day and has increased seventy-fold from the 4,750 books it initially had when it started, a century ago. Dr. Sathishkumar S Hosamani, Director of the department of public libraries for state of Karnataka said, “Readership in the library has increased over the years, and corporates, IAS officers, IPS officers have all been readers of the State Central Library”.

The State Central Library is a reference library. Neither does it lend the books nor does it offer any memberships. It has an average of 400-500 visitors everyday. When asked for the future plans of the department of libraries, he said he wants to introduce book culture across 6800 libraries in the state and also mentioned plans of introducing one mobile library for each district.

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