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The National Library
 
 
The National Library, which was patronized by the British East India Company, happens to be the first Public Library in Eastern India and the largest Library in the whole Indian Sub-Continent. Located at the picturesque Belvedere Estate in Kolkata, National Library with a collection of around 22,71,000 Books and huge collection of  Manuscripts, Periodicals and News Papers, that caters to the knowledge hungry people of Kolkata, believed to be the cultural hub of India. It is an institution of National importance under the 'Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Government of India'. National Library was basically set up to collect, distribute and preserve material that is produced within the country.
 
There is a history associated with the National Library. Earlier it was not called National Library as it went through a evaluation and merged with Public Library and British Secretarial Library into what we know today – The National Library. Kolkata being the capital of  British East India Company, it was a place of intense intellectuals scholarly activities and naturall during the initial year of the British Colonial rule, the Public Library of Kolkata was run primarily through donations. Some notable persons like Sadar-Ud-din – the then Zaminder of Buhor, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Surendra Nath Sen donated their invaluable collections to the National Library which have added to the value of the prestigious Institution.
 
According to the popular belief, the National Library building was not built by the British. Azim-Us-Shaan is believed to have constructed it in 1700 AD. In 1850, the British Government took charge of this palatial house.
 
Established in 1836, the Calcutta Public Library is not a Government institution. Pyarichand Mitra had tenaciously worked behind it. This can easily be regarded as the foundation of the National Library. It became the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. Calcutta Public Library had an unique position and whose first proprietor was Dwarkanath Tagore. The Library purchased both the Indian and foreign books specially from Britain. It was reported in the report of 1850, that the Library started collecting books in Gujarati, Marathi, Pali, Punjabi as well as Ceylonese. Government of Bengal and North Western Provinces provided donations regularly to fund the working of the Library.
 
Afterwards Lord Curzon decided to make an amalgamation of the Calcutta Public Library and the Imperial Library to establish a potential one. By this honest intention Lord Curzon virtually laid the foundation of National Library, Kolkata. John Macfarlane, the Asst. Librarian of the British Museum, London, was appointed as the first Librarian of the Imperial Library. But the library was then called Imperial Library and was formally opened to the public on 30th January 1903 at Metcalf Hall.
 
After the independence of India the Government of India changed the name of the Imperial Library and named it the National Library. On 1st February, 1953 the National Library, Kolkata was opened to the public, inaugurated by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Sri B.S. Kesavan was appointed as the first librarian of the National Library, Kolkata.
 
Today the National Library has carved a niche for itself and has lived up to the expectations of India's educated masses, providing quality library services that is comparable to the best in the world.
 
The library has exclusive divisions of Indian and Foreign language books and publications. In the Indian language division, there is a rich collection of books, periodicals and manuscripts of all the major Indian languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu etc. The Sanskrit language division has rare Pali and Prakrit Manuscripts.
 
The Foreign language division has been categorized into sections like German Division, East Asian Division, Roman Division, West Asia, Slavonic Division, and African Division, all of which are replete with collection of books and manuscripts. It is the storehouse of the rare collection of the Indian official documents from the early days of the British Colonial rule till the present day. The National Library has the honor of being a repository library by the United Nations and its agencies. This enables the National Library to receive all United Nations publications free of cost from them.
 
The Rare Books Section comprises of  books, monographs and manuscripts that date back to the pre 1860 era. The National Library is not only has a remarkable stock of books and articles but is also such a medium, which is used as a link for correspondence with the past generations. Books are our necessities and for this purpose the National Library has huge contributions not only in National affairs but also international.
 
The National Library not only stocks books and manuscripts, but also plays a pivotal role in preserving printed matters for tomorrow's generation. Apart from the old fashioned physical and chemical preservation, the library has embraced digitization as well and has already archived rare books and documents on CD's.
 

Tags: The National Library, Kolkata National Library, British East India Company, Kolkata Public Library, Calcutta Public Library, London British Museum, Books collection of Kolkata National Library, Manuscripts of Kolkata National Library, Pali Manuscripts

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