Libraries In Mumbai: Hidden Treasures!

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J N Petit Institute Old Library
Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai
Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai

They say that a city is judged by the quality of its public libraries. A public library is a key amenity for all the citizens as it not only opens up the doors to various avenues through books but also creates a community space. Although we do not have a National Library to boast of, like Kolkata, Mumbai does offer a few options for both the researcher and the leisure reader.

1. Asiatic Society of Mumbai Library and Reading Room
Town Hall is one of the key landmarks of South Bombay. The architecture which has a Greek and Roman influence stands tall and is frequently featured in many films and television advertisements. Built in the 1830s, this building houses one of the oldest public libraries of the city. It contains rare manuscripts, scrolls and coins apart from a vast variety of books on virtually all subjects. A good set of magazines and newspapers is also available. Members of the general public are invited to avail of the facilities for free of cost. However, books are not issued to be taken home if you are not a member.

Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai
Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai

The reading room is spacious and quite. The museum housing various artifacts and statues is under renovation but the staff has said that the work should be completed soon. The condition of the entire structure could be better maintained but judging by the number of students and reading enthusiasts present during the reading hours suggests that no one seems to be complaining as it serves a greater purpose. It overlooks the Horniman Circle garden which is a great place to relax and take a break from the studying schedule. The steps leading to the library, popularly known as Asiatic Steps is a popular hangout during the evenings where one can simply sit back and watch the world go by.
Timings: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
Closed on weekends and national holidays.

2. J N Petit Institute Library

J N Petit Institute Old Library
J N Petit Institute Old Library

While walking down on DN Road, at the junction of PM Road, just after the signal towards Fountain, you will spot a magnificent building to your right built in the Neo-Gothic architecture style. Standing tall and lonely amongst the other heritage structures on this road, it houses a secret inside. The JN Petit library started in the year 1856. Enter the building and a winding staircase takes you right to the top where the reading room is located.

What welcomes you is a spacious room flooded by natural light and an array of tables spread across the room. High stained glass windows , old whirring fans and ardent readers who don’t seem to like visitors take you back a few decades ago when the only way to research on the topic was to refer several books. Known to have a good collection of books, especially fiction, they also claim to have a good collection of books on competitive exams. However, membership is required to avail of the facilities and forms will be issued only after the monsoon as some restoration work is underway.
Timings: 7:30 am to 8:00 pm
Fees: Rs. 1800/Year

3. David Sassoon Library and Reading Room

David Sasoon Library, Mumbai
David Sasoon Library, Mumbai

One cannot miss this Gothic building, located bang opposite Jehangir Art Gallery while walking down on MG Road towards Colaba. Instituted as a centre for promotion of science and technology replete with a museum of architectural and mechanical models in 1870, it was converted into a library and reading room in later years. One of the protected buildings and a heritage structure, it boasts of having a collection of over 40,0r00 books and counting.One can find rare and extremely old books in this vast collection.

The reading room retains the old warm charm with its long and sturdy wooden tables retrofitted with small tube lights for convenience. The DSL, as it is known privately, also has its own garden which serves as a venue for several events including the Literary events of the Kala Ghoda Festival. Jackfruit, mango and coconut trees offer a great escape from the monotony of studying in this small green patch. One needs to become a member to avail the facilities. Ordinary membership is offered for a period of one year. Foreign nationals and persons of Indian origin holding a foreign passport are provided a special 45 day membership.
Timings: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Fees: Rs. 3300/Year or Rs. 1000/45 days

4. Health Education Library for People (HELP) 
Another gem of DN Road, this is a novel library instituted to educate patients on all aspects of health and well being. With over 11000 books classified under various sections such as Fitness, Diet, Diseases, it also has a vast collection of audio visual material. It also offers a good environment to refer all the books for free of cost.

Regular lectures by health professionals on various health topics are conducted on the mezzanine floor of the library which are enriching and informative. The staff is extremely friendly and polite and the seating capacity though modest is comfortable. Based on the concept of Information Therapy, it promotes preventive measures to safeguard oneself from any future ailments. Books are issued only to members.
Timings: 10:00 am to 6:30 pm
Sundays closed
Fees: Rs. 250/Annum

5. Dr Homi Kanga Memorial Sports Library
A library dedicated only to sports exists in Mumbai. Since 1946. Amazing isn’t it?  When you enter the Wankhede stadium complex through the Vinoo Mankad gate, walk past the shiny new Cricket Centre and you will come across a old dilapidated building. Turn left into the wooden door right next to entrance and you’ll find yourself at Dr Homi Kanga Memorial Sports library. Largely neglected by the MCA, this library has not found its spot in the fancy new buildings that have been constructed along with the revamping of the stadium.

Know of any other interesting libraries or reading rooms? Tell us!

Post By Rushikesh Kulkarni (22 Posts)

Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.

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Rushikesh Kulkarni

Rushikesh Kulkarni
Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.
  • Vipul Alhat

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH…WAS SEARCHING FOR THE EXACT INFO PROVIDED FOR MANY DAY NOW…VERY CONCISE…THANK YOU VERY MUCH…HELPED ME A LOT…

  • Amit

    All these libraries require permanent address in mumbai. What should do if my permanent residency address is in pune but I live in mumbai for job?

  • Amit Singh

    can any one tell me any libraries or reading room where we can carry own for studies purpose all if its near to sion or dadar area

  • Suprav

    Except for Asiatic Society are the other libraries open during the weekend?