Connemara Public Library
Connemara Public Library in Chennai was established in 1896. Out of four national depositories of India, Connemara Public Library is one. It receives the copy of all books, periodicals and newspapers published in India.
It has records of old publications, even centuries old. This library also serves as a depository for the UN. The complex and building of this Library reflects the architectural unity and the stages of Indo-Saracenic development side by side.
In 1973 a new building was added to the library, which holds the large collection of books, a text book section, a reference room, a periodicals hall, a video room, an entire floor is dedicated to the books of Indian languages, an IAS Study Centre and also a Braille Library.
Connemara Library is the pride of Chennai, the city is very well known for its old architectural buildings and this library is not only known as a heaven for readers and book lovers but the beautiful architecture of the building has a significance importance as a part of history of this city. The library was founded in 1896 and it has grown with the city.
The library derived its name from its founder, Bobby Robert Bourke Connemara. He was a learned man himself and he was the person who felt the urgency of a free good public library in the city of Chennai which was called Madras then. Very few give shape to their thoughts but Bobby Robert Bourke Connemara was one such man who laid the foundation of his idea on 22nd of March 1890.
Objectives of the Connemara Library:
Lord Connemara gave this boon of public library to the area. The first objective in his mind was to provide means of study as he learned that many students left their studies as they were unable to afford books.
He also said that he feel pain to see that students who have distinguished themselves in minor degrees often don’t go for Masters of Science or Arts or other subjects just because they were not able to buy books. So the first objective for laying the foundation stone of the library was to provide books to the people of presidency of Madras.
The other objectives as seen by the founder were that young and old men and also ladies shall come to the library to enjoy the pleasure of reading literature.
How Connemara Library got its name?
The Library was completed and dedicated to the public within scheduled time that is on 14-4-1896. But it was not before 5-12-1896 that the library was finally formally innagurated and Governor Sir Arthur Eli bunk Haw lock opened it for general public. The library was named “Connemara” in honour of the great man who laid the foundation of this great gift to the society. Since then Connemara library enjoys the special reputation in the hearts of people of Chennai.
Structure of the Connemara Library:
Apart from fulfilling the needs of the readers and learners this library holds special respect for its enormous structure built in Indo- Saracenic style. This type structure is very rare to come across. The massive structure continues to evoke a sense of respect in the eyes of beholders even after hundred years.
This semi circular building was designed by the then consulting Architect of the Government of Madras - H. Irvin. Bookshelves are beautifully carved in Teak-wood; it is a splendid hall with a magnificent reading room. The ceiling also has its own beauty.
The curtailed top has a ceiling in wood. The coloured pieces of glass, the ornamented shapes of leaves and flowers on pillars, the finished windows, the perfected marbled flooring etc. are all worth admiring. The entrance is huge and semi circular. In those days the construction cost of the building was Rs. 575,000.
In 1952, mezzanine Teak-wood flooring was added in order to accommodate inflow books and additional number of visitors. The cost of which was around 130,000. The steel racks were also added to accommodate books at the cost of Rs. 30,000/-. In all this library have approximately 20,080 feet of shelf space and around 27000 sq. ft. of floor area.
Further, in 1973 a three storey T shaped building was constructed to manage the increasing stock. Again in 1999 one more three storey building was added in the complex.
Independent Identity of the Connemara Library:
Initially Library was an adjunct to the Government Museum which was under the control of Superintendent of the government museum. However as the work in the library start increasing a need of a full time librarian was felt. Sri R. Janardhanam Naidu took over the post of a full time librarian on 9th September 1929.
This is how the Connemara Library became the first library to develop freely under the guidance and sharp vision of a full time librarian. In 1930 the Museum staffs was and library staff was entirely separated and librarian took the full control of it. Library became an independent institution with effect from 1st April, 1939. Librarian presided over it under the direct control of the Directorate of public Libraries. It became the State library on and from 1st April 1950.
Collection of the Connemara Library:
The collection of library can be clearly divided under different heads:
7,22,000 is the stock of volumes. The library at present receives 3500 and 160 periodicals and newspapers respectively.
- Dhanakoti Collection
A kind donation of Rs 20,000 was made to Victoria Memorial by Rao Bahadur Arcot Dhanakoti Mudaliar, for the purchase of books, these books finally got home in Connemara public Library.
- Material Received under the Madras Public Literary Act
After library was promoted to State Cebtral Library in accordance with Madras Public Libraries Act, It stated receiving 4 copies of publications published in the State. The stock of the library was was increased to some extent as a result.
- Books Act
On 10th September 1955, a declaration was made which made this library as one of the four libraries of India to receive every book and other materials published in the country. This resulted in increasing the stock of the library which finally created the problem for accommodating the books and material in the library.
- From U.N.O and Asian development Bank
Library also received number of periodicals and publications of the U.N, its agencies and Asian Development Bank.
- Donated Material
Many individuals, institutions and Governments donated a large amount of books to the library, increasing its stock further.
Every year a good number of books are added by purchasing them through the funds available.
Government of Tamil Nadu bear all the expenditure needed to be done in order to maintain the Library. Government of India also meet 50% of recurring and 2/3rd of non- recurring expenditure for Delivery of Books Act section.
- Rare Books
There are more than 1 Lakh rare books and periodicals available in the library. To name, some are:-
- Title: Omnes Quae Extant
Year of publication:1553
Author: Hieronymi Strido
- Title: Opera Exlast Ominia (Greek Latin)
Year of publication: 1578
- Title: Fax Artium Liberalium (Latin)
Year of publication: 1604
Author: Gruler (Jan)
- Title: The Bible
Year of publication: 1608
- Title: Hortus Indicus Malabaricus
Year of publication: 1678
Author: Rheed, etc.
- Title: A Voyage to Suratt in the Year 1689
Year of publication: 1696
Author: Ovington (J)
1698 Refulatio Alcorani
- Title: Refulatio
Year of publication: 1698
Computerization of the Connemara Library:
Computerization was introduced in the Connemara library in 1990’s; the start however was small with the help of a single PC/XT which was running on database software. A giant leap was taken in this regard in the year 1998, when two servers and twelve nodes were purchased.
The expense was 8 lakhs. The highly efficient staff successfully helped to input a massive 3.5 lakhs records in the Computers. Two more servers and six more nodes were bought with an increased budget of 18 lakhs in the year 2003. This helped the library in putting one more step forward in the direction of full computerization of it. In June 2003, Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) was introduced along with a separate website was prepared with all the information of the library.
Digitization of the Connemara Library:
One more feather in the cap of this massive library was introduction of digitisation. In the year 2006 scanning services were introduced with help of which rare and old documents can be scanned and preserved for their prosperity.
There is a well established forum in the library which not only helps the reader’s to get Xerox facilities but also organizes Book release functions and literary meetings for benefiting the readers.
Other Details of the Connemara Library:
Working Days and Hours:
The Connemara Library is open to serve the General Public daily from morning 9o’clock till evening 7.30 during weekdays and from morning 9.30 till 6 in the evening on Sundays. The Library enjoys very few Holidays, it remain closed on 3 National holidays and on Pongal, Tamil New Year, Deepawali, Pooja Holidays and Christmas.
Visitors and Membership:
Persons above the age of 17 years are eligible to enjoy the benefits of the Library.
Library membership is open for all the citizens of Chennai who are above 17 years of Age. Annual subscription is only Rs. 50/- . Any member can borrow 6 books for 14 days period on depositing Rs 300/- . There are 1,27,575 members of the Library at present.
Connemara Public Library
Pantheon Road, Egmore
Pin Code - 600008
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