Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Important Place To Visit If You Are In Chennai - Anna Centenary Library

Anna Centenary Library, Chennai

I and my niece visited this famous library in Chennai, yesterday.  This was built two years back and we used to watch it coming up very often whenever we crossed the road (Kotturpuram).  But somehow we missed to visit though we used to talk of visiting often.

Now, after Jayalalitha took over the government, we again started discussing of visiting because she threatened to make it into a children's hospital (news here).  The earlier Chief Minister had taken lot of pains to build this library according to international standard.  Thank god, the court has stayed Jayalalitha's move.

All these days, we were thinking that the library will be mostly full of Tamil books. We are wrong.  Please have a look at what wikipedia says about this library:


Built on 8 acres of land, the 9 floor library building houses a total area of 333,140 sq. ft. and has a capacity to accommodate 1.2 million books.  The library has planned to adopt an integrated library management system that includes automated issue and return of books, user smarkcards, access controls, Radio Frequencey Identification technology and self-check counters.  The library is designed to accommodate a total of 1,250 persons, an auditorium of 10,000 sq.ft. with aseating cpacity of 1,280 and an amphitheatre on the terrace that can accommodate more than 800 persons and two concerence halls with capacities of 151 and 30 persons are some of the facilities available.  A dedicated children's section, spread over 15,000 sq.ft. has a fun-filled theme-based reading area with multimedia kits and story books.  The library also boasts a high-tech section for the visually-impaired, with TALKING BOOKS and BRAILLE displays.

Their website gives more information here.  I will just write about my experience.  I was really surprised at the  varieties of books they have and the cleanliness/neatness with which they are maintaining the library.  We felt as if we are entering a library abroad. They don't allow anything inside...no camera, no hand bag (only purse), nothing else.  We can take a water bottle which should be left at the entrance of every hall. We could make 6 floors (just a glance) yesterday.  I saw very old books on Christianity, Sikhism etc. They looked like rare books. They are bound and catalogued nicely.

The Braille section has got many books.  I saw the alphabets in braille for the first time.  The link says that they have talking books too.

I loved the children's section.  Have a look at this:





Since we were not allowed to take pictures, I had to google for them (thanks google!).  You can see an artificial tree and children sitting under it and read.  Some parents were reading for their kids.  The section has got cartoon characters too.  The books vary from fiction to mythology.  Every book is kept in order.   Every section had helping staff who were very polite which is very rare here, in our place.  I saw a lady trying to take picture from her mobile.  The staff went near her and patted on her shoulder and said 'no'.  That is all! Many are there to help us find books.

I loved the reading area spread out near the glass wall of the halls.  We can sit and read in natural lighting.  They have provided tables also if you want to jot down something.  I saw many people reading, which looked for a long time, sitting at the same place!



The place is not congested anywhere.  the bookshelves are spread with lots of places in between.


I remembered my children asking me to take time for selecting books in our lending library, when they were kids, so that they can finish off reading some comics free of cost.  This library is a boon for children like them.  You can sit there from morning to evening comfortably and read books free of cost.  I saw the 'French Loaf' outlet too in one floor! The Rs.46 cake was good!

After giving us so much facility they don't charge you even entrance fee! Great, Mr.Karunanidhi, our ex-Chief Minister.  If our current CM, Ms. Jayalalitha continues to run this library like it is done now, let us say, 'She is also great'!

Edited to add after 2 hours: Membership cards will be made available in another couple of months.  At present we can sit there and read!
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