//Connemara Public Library at Chennai is one of the four National Depository Libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India. Established in 1896 the library is a repository of centuries-old publications. It also serves as a depository library for the UN.
The library was as part of a cultural complex that grew in the grounds of what was once called ‘The Pantheon’. The entire complex now boasts buildings that reflect architectural unity, even while demonstrating the various stages of Indo-Saracenic development, from Gothic-Byzantine to Rajput Mughal and Southern Hindu Deccani.//
The Connemara Public library is situated inside the present day Egmore Museum, Madras complex. This week, celebrating the world book day, the library had allowed access to the public to the Victorian era old building (considering its age, access is restricted on other days) – with wooden flooring, teak wood bookshelves and stained glasses, it was a beauty. Adding to this were the rare books that were displayed, many of them centuries old and will be a treat for all historians and book-lovers.
The library staff were around to protect the books from the public – it is sad, but understandable as a few of my fellow citizens have little regard for preserving and would love to write their name in a book or tear a page as a souvenir. Having said that, I could see many of the visitors, especially school children captivated by the books and going through them patiently. Surprisingly, the staff were approachable, friendly and were eager to answer our questions – for earning my karma points and doing my civic duty, I complimented a few of them that I encountered!
There is no direct access to the old building, you need to go to the first floor in the current building and then walk through a connecting corridor – thankfully, the library staff have posted easy to see signboards showing the way
Everywhere you turn, there are designs carved in every piece of the woodwork (which I suppose are teak and rosewood)
Walking through the halls of the old building, it felt like walking to a cinema scene. Photos above show the ground floor were centuries old ‘rare’ books are preserved and not open for public
Book-lovers and visitors going through books which have not seen a public for decades
The semi-circular roof, the stained glasses on the walls, and the circular reading room are a visual treat just to see. I would love to be locked up here and the key to be thrown out! Even during the peak Madras Summer, the halls were not hot!
More pictures of the roof inside Connemara Public Library, Madras, India
Stained Glasses inside Connemara Public Library, Egmore, Chennai! I feel mesmerised by just looking at them!
Even the solid walls are not left out, they have paintings drawn on them. Look at the birds’ sculpture in the bottom, lovely.
The Constitution of India signed by the founding fathers of India – one of the four or so original copies in the whole of India
Indian Art and Letters magazine of 1936 writing about “The Death of King George V”. Minutes of the evidence of the trial of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of Bengal at the bar of the house of lords, with library seal from 1905.
Pages from books showing paintings by famous artists – V.S.Gurjar’s Anglers, Jamini Roy’s Toilet.
Page from a book showing a painting done in 1908 by Rabindranath Tagore
Page from The Rock Paintings of the Mahadeo Hills. Stanley Reed’s Royal Tour in India 1906. The Udaipur Palace from the Lake, Picture of Maharaj Kumar Shri Bhopal Singh Bahadur in a book with library seal of 1935. A painting of The Month of Jeth, A leaf from a Baramasa Series from Rao Madho Singh Museum Trust, City Palace, Kotah
Not only from British India, but the library also has rare books from around the world. This one was about Colombia (200 Grabados En Cobre) by Robert M. Gerstmann (1896–1960) with a library seal from 1952
Edwards’s Botanical Register – Ornamental Flower-Garden and Shrubbery consisting of Coloured Figures of Plants and Shrubs cultivated in British Gardens. By John Lindley, Published by James Ridgway and Sons, Piccadilly. 1841
These handmade sketches printed by lithography are so life-like, its unbelievable. The textures are so detailed and breathtaking.
Ajanta Caves – The colour and monochrome reproductions of the Ajanta Frescoes based on Photography – Introduction by G.Yazdani and Laurence Binyon – Published under the authority of the Highness The Nizam.
This is one of the floors of Connemara Library which is open for the public at all times
T.N.C.Venkatarangan (yours truly) seen inside the old building of Connemara Public Library, Egmore, Chennai, India – 27th April 2019