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 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!


Susan Deborah said...

Visited this place and loved it. Sad I'm not in Chennai to visit this place regularly.

Joy always,

P. S: You can post this link to the FB page on Anna Centenary Library.

Sandhya said...

SUSAN DEBORAH: Thank you, Susan. Will go to the FB page now.

Deepa said...

Its a really nice library. Did you notice the rooftop amphitheatre? Imagine an evening of beautiful music at that height! That would be absolutely lovely. I wish JJ does not succeed in her attempts to destroy this library. If nurtured properly, it can become a really good community centre - where people can meet and pursue activities. That is becoming really scarce in our cities.

P.N. Subramanian said...

Although I was in Chennai for over a month, I missed this. Will make sure I visit next time. Why the hell they prohibit photography?

ashok said...

The building looks good...wonder who's the architect?

Bikramjit said...

lovely building looks very neat and clean. I will try to see it as and when i visit chennai..


KParthasarathi said...

Thanks.The write up kindles our interest.Will visit soon.

Sandhya said...

DEEPA: The top floor was blocked for visitors on the day I went there, Deepa. Will visit again to see the theatre!

Let us hope so!

PN SUBRAMANIAM: I don't know why they don't allow to photograph inside. Something to do with our Jaya?!

ASHOK: An architect is speaking! The architects: CR Narayan rao, architects and engineers! This is certified as 'green building' too! Lot of natural light is being used in the inside. You will like it, Ashok.

BIKRAM: For India, this library is unique, Bikram.

K PARTHASARATHY: Please visit. You will like the atmosphere, Partha Sir!

Destination Infinity said...

I wanted to go there today due to the full day power cut in our area, but missed it due to some other work. I hope we can bring books to take some notes?

I have gone there once for a Japanese dolls exhibition and we took photos of the dolls. They didn't object. I noticed how neat and how many books they had. I should be visiting this library shortly once they announce the membership program.

Destination Infinity

Renu said...

i Have seen it from outside only..looks majestic and now you say the same thing..

Swaram said...

This is such a feast for bookworms Sandhya :) Luved the kiddos area. And it is so nice that they have books in Braille too - so very rare that is :)

Sandhya said...

DESTINATION INFINITY: I don't know the reason, but they asked us to leave the camera with the security. As I have written, they didn't allow to take via mobile too!

THe library is unique.

RENU: Yes, it is very good Renu!

SWARAM: Yes, this library covers all types of books...very rare books too.

sharu said...

Hi, mami, Thanks for the information abt the membership. great. I would like to add a special information about the huge collection of philosophy and religious books. A seperate floor for this. Amazing collections. People who are interested in these subjects will have a great time.

Varunavi said...

Library looks neat and clean.But there should be one time entrance fee,that will see that only genuine readers will go to the library.

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Looks like an awesome place. Must include in my visit itinerary next time I am in Chennai. ( Shall try and obtain advance special permission to take photographs inside:))

kanagu said...

After being in Chennai and I thought I ran out of places thanks of reminding me that I left one really important place.. should go by next week :)

The place looks really good and hope it doesn;t get ruined by Ms.Jayalalitha's ego.. When I first heard about changing this library to hospital I was like... 'For what?' glad we have courts :) :)

Rahul Bhatia said...

Nice reading Sandhya! The cake was an icing after a visit to the library:)

R. Ramesh said...

hey gr8 post yar..wil check up with u more details on this when i visit chennai in august insha allah...take care cya

SM said...

beautiful place
must visit place

Deeps said...

Oh I so would love to have a library like this in my vicinity! This looks like such a wonderful and thriving place to be!

Sandhya said...

SHARU: I know you will go for membership at this library. Yes, it is great. We are lucky to have a library with international quality.

VARUNAVI: Yes, you are right. But when we went there, we saw genuine people and nobody talked loudly...I was really astonished!

R.RAMAKRISHNAN: Please do visit and take lots of pictures!

KANAGU: Yes, we still have some decent courts! Please visit and write about your view.

RAHUL BHATIA: Thank you, Bhatiaji!

R.RAMESH: Please do, Ramesh!

SM: Yes, SM!

Sandhya said...

DEEPS: This is a good place for bookworms, Deeps!

Kavita said...

I don't know how long Chandan;s hault would be at Chennai ,if it suits him I am definitely going to tell him to visit the library.The kid's section is just wow.

Sai Charan said...

Really loved reading about this amazinf library, definitely sounds international standards and makes us proud that its the largest library in Asia! :)

Since my childhood, library has always been a second home, apart from home, we spent most of our time at the library and sometimes at a temple.

Its a blessing to the students who live nearby and everyone who love to visit. I'd like to visit the library sometime :)

And coming to Jayalalitha's interest to turn it into a children's hospital, the Govt. should shell out more money to built an equally sufficient hospital for kids instead of trying to occupy such a marvellous house of knowlege and a temple of books.

Sai :)

R. Ramesh said...

nanri nanri nanri sandhyaji

Krishna said...

indeed post and interesting post...


R. Ramesh said...


Deeps said...

Saw your update on facebook today, Sandhya. Hope you're feeling better now.
Sending out posititve energy and good wishes to you.

Stay happy and take care


Renu said...

did you remove the new post?

Sandhya said...

KAVITA: The whole library is wonderful, Kavita. It is worth visiting.

SAICHARAN: I agree with you about the childrens' hospital, Sai. Yes, people are lucky to have such a library nearby.

KRISHNA: Thanks, Krishna

DEEPS: Thank you, Deeps. It will take time.

RENU: Yes, Renu

Priyarajan said...

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Sandhya said...

PRIYARAJAN: Welcome here, Priya Rajan. Thanks for the invitation. I don't seem to be writing much these days.

Roshmi Sinha said...

Wanting to demolish a library (!) … that too such a well-maintained, well-stocked one – for a hospital?? Is Amma out of her mind or something?? May the Almighty have some ‘karuna’ on her then! :)

PS: The library is a visual treat as well. It brought back memories of good old days of my childhood. Nostalgia lane beckons :)

Sandhya said...

ROSHMI SINHA: Karuna had built it. It was a sort of dream for him. So Amma doesn't like it and want to change it!

Our house looked like a library when the children were home. All of us used to have a book in our hands most of the time!

Roshmi Sinha said...

This is extremely myopic and taking personal rivalry and dislike for someone - to new levels! I hope it survives.

Sandhya said...

ROSHMI SINHA: People got a stay order for that! Thank god!

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