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National Library, Kolkata Tourist Attraction

National Library Kolkata Entry Fee

  • No entry fee

Admission to the Reading rooms is free to all persons above 18 years of age and holding reading room membership card

National Library Kolkata Phone

033 2479 2968

Rating: | 4/5 stars
Based on total 53 reviews

National Library Kolkata Address: Belvedere Rd, Block A, Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700027, India

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National Library Kolkata Timings

Day Timing
Monday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Tuesday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wedesday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Links: | Map

One of the many best things that happened to Kolkata is the National Library. It is the largest library in terms of volume in the entire Indian Subcontinent and also happens to be the first in Eastern part of India. Kolkata, being the first modern city of British Empire outside of Great Britain, had enjoyed several perks, and among them, the rich heritage in terms of architecture, art and culture gains highest marks. The library is spread across an area of 30 acres.

Being maintained by the collaborative efforts of the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the Government of India, The National library boasts of having the largest collection of books, journals, periodicals, manuscripts and newspapers in both Indian and Foreign languages.

History of National Library Kolkata

Calcutta Public Library

It was in 1836 that the Calcutta Public Library was formed, run by proprietors on a self- financed model and was run as a non- government institution. The formation of Calcutta Public Library went on to become the foundation of the National Library. The very first proprietor of the Calcutta Public Library was Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, grandfather of Rabindranath Tagore.

The library was opened for students from underprivileged families for free usage of books for a particular period of time. The first collection of books in the library came from donations, from quite a few good Samaritans of British East India Company. Lord Metcalfe, the then Governor General of British India had gotten a little over 4000 books transferred to Calcutta Public Library from the library of the College of Fort William.

The books purchased by the library were both of Indian and foreign origins, especially from Britain. Also, the library started collecting books of various other regional Indian languages around 1850 and this included books in Marathi, Pali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Ceylonese.

Donations and funding came in at regular intervals from the proprietors, Government of Bengal and North Western Provinces to ease the working of the library.

The Imperial Library

Simultaneously, sometime around 1890- 91, the Imperial Library came into being by combining several secretariat libraries of Calcutta, including the library of the Home Department that housed a rich collection of books from the library of East India College, Fort William and East India Board, London. As the name suggests, the access to the Imperial Library was restricted to the elites and government officers of high ranks.

In 1910, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was appointed the President of the Imperial Library Council and he alone had donated 80,000 books from his personal collection. These were arranged as a separate section altogether.

The Mergers of Two Libraries: Calcutta Public Library and The Imperial Library

Having noticed the two libraries being under- utilized, due to a number of restrictions in terms of access to facilities, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the then Viceroy of British India, came up with the unique idea of combining the two libraries. His principal motive was to have the newer and bigger library open to the use of everyone irrespective of their ranks and classes. And the fact that the new library should serve as a repository of rich information for students and future historians of India.

The amalgamation would also make one big library with the richest collection of books. The all new library was named Imperial Library and was formally opened to the public on 30th January 1903 at the Metcalfe Hall, which had earlier served as the home of Governor Generals; Wellington, Cornwallis and Warren Hastings. The Asst. Librarian of the British Museum of London, John Macfarlane was appointed the first librarian of the Imperial Library.

The Imperial Library Becomes The National Library

After India gained independence in 1947, the name of the Imperial Library was changed to National Library with its entire collection being shifted from Metcalfe Hall to the Belvedere Estate where is stands presently. The National Library was inaugurated by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on 1st February 1953 and was opened to the public on the same day.

Present Day

To live up to the expectations of a modern and ever demanding world, it becomes imperative for any institution to create a niche of its own and the National Library has lived up to the expectations of history enthusiasts and educated masses equally. The service provided by the library is world class and is commendable too.

Image Gallery of National Library Kolkata

Collection at National Library Kolkata

Famous for its largest collection of books by volume in the entire country, the National Library has been allocated to collect, broadcast and preserve every printed material that has ever been produced.

In the Indian language section, the collection of books, periodicals and manuscripts belong to all major Indian languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu etc. There is a separate division for Sanskrit language that has rare Pali and Prakrit Manuscripts.

The collection under the foreign language section include divisions like German, East Asian, Roman, West Asia, Slavonic, and African Divisions, all of which are well stocked with collection of books and manuscripts. The collection under Rare Books section has books, monographs and manuscripts that date back to the early 19th Century, the period around 1860 as well as the period pre-dating 1860s.

When it comes to housing the records of official documents, the National Library can be failed by none. It houses official documents right from the beginning of the British rule till present day. The National Library receives all publications from the United Nations absolutely free of cost. Reason being, the library has been honoured by the United Nations and its agencies for being a repository library.

At present, the library has a little over 2, 270, 000 books, 86,000 maps, and over 3,200 manuscripts. With a shelf space that spans over 45 kilometres, the reading rooms here are wide and spacious with a capacity to accommodate over 550 people.

As the world goes digital, the National Library too, has matched its pace quite generously and now preserves printed matters for gen-next. The library has digitized and also archived rare books and documents on CD's and maintains E-records.

Timings, Entry Fee and Membership Card to visit National Library Kolkata

Timings: The timings of visit to the National Library are from 9 am to 8 pm during weekdays and from 9:30 am to 6 pm during weekends.

The library remains closed on 26th January, 15th August and 2nd October

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee, however, one needs to carry an identity card.

Membership Card: There are two types of membership cards, permanent and temporary.

For tourists and visitors: The temporary card is issued to tourists and visitors and is valid for one day. One needs to carry his/her identity cards for the temporary card to be made.


Pets are not allowed inside the library premises.

There is an old canteen outside the museum that opens between 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and serves tea, coffee and snacks. They also prepare lunch if someone requests for a brunch/lunch or dinner at nominal charges.

How to Reach National Library Kolkata

The library is located in the Belvedere Estate near Alipore Zoo, Kolkata. Being located at the centre of a hustling city like Kolkata, the library is easily reachable from all parts of the city.

Nearest Metro Station: Netaji Bhavan

By Bus: Nearest Bus Station is Ekbalpur. One may also board any buses to Jali Gate or Kothari Hospital

The library is located at a short distance of 2km from both Netaji Bhavan metro station and Ekbalpur bus station. One may hire a taxi to reach here.

By Train: Nearest railway station is Howrah Junction Railway Station, which is 10 kilometres away from the library. One may hire prepaid taxis from outside the station or even rent cabs (Ola, Uber, etc.)

Nearest Airport: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is the nearest airport, at a distance of around 20 kilometres from the library. One may hire yellow taxis (either prepaid or otherwise) or hire a cab from top car rental companies in Kolkata and explore all the must visit places to visit in Kolkata during their city tour.

Places to visit near National Library Kolkata

Alipore Zoo, The Agri Horticultural Society of India, Kalighat Kali Temple, Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Birla Planetarium, Fort William, BBD Bagh and Princep Ghat are located nearby.

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