"The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library past and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass." These beautiful lines are from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and how beautifully they describe the feeling bibliophiles feel every time they step inside a library! The beautiful world of libraries, dear to some and a complete stranger to some. The sight, the feel, the smell of books old and new is heady. Endless shelves of books contain stories and information, still unknown to so many of us. "Who has time to flip pages when you can swipe?" "Ah libraries! What's there to do?" The art of reading is dying, one screen-swipe at a time. And there are hundreds of thousands of books to speak to you. Experience the deafening silence of a library and tell us if it changes your life. Here are three libraries in Delhi that house undiscovered treasure and we feel this is something you need to experience. Revive the art of reading, we say.
DELHI PUBLIC LIBRARY, Old Delhi
The Delhi Public library, as the name suggests is a fully functional public library, been in service for almost 70 years now. The library caters to the needs of those just willing to read, preparing for exams or those looking to dive into the history. With a seating arrangement spread over all across the property, the books are so well organized and accessible to all. Housing the oldest Gazettes of India, the library’s magnificence has not been justified enough. One can make out the section with historical books from a distance. The air is filled with a certain kind of nostalgia and dryness. Apart from this, the library also has 100 mobile points available with a subscription fee as low as Rs. 20. With more than six lakh books in the OPAC system, the library has more than 1.5 lakh members.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA, Tilak Marg
One of the lesser known libraries, the ASI library is an underground facility beaming with peace. The library premises, pristine and silent, are perfect for those looking for a quiet reading room. Not giving in to the pressure of technological advancement, the library still uses the old card system to lend books. The books, however, are available for reading within the library premises and not for issuing. One does not require a membership to access the library. Right from the origin of coins to clocks, Islamic culture and architecture, the library is an umbrella organization for all books culture and history. While there, one can also head to their canteen which is as light as a feather on the pocket.
NEHRU MEMORIAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, Teen Murti Bhawan
Not a public library, this research library is where you want to be if you are a bonafide researcher and are looking for some advanced research materials on social sciences and everything related to the modern Indian history. From back issues of several old newspapers to oral history records to rare books, this library is a one-stop solution to all your research purposes. The library also houses a fantastic collection of research materials on microfilms and microfiche. A member will have access to a total of 18,231 microfilm rolls and 51,322 microfiche plates of various papers, records and newspapers. Here you will also find a fine collection of about 2,02,415 photographs and negatives, dating back to the pre and post independence era. The Photo Division of the library is the place for that.
For the longest time, reading has been associated with liberation. The coarse pages of a book depart one to a world supremely distinct where we currently exist. For different people the reading experience is different. Some prefer a quiet room to themselves, some a café while the others choose libraries. Then there are those who prefer reading on the go as well. Reading never loses its charm and neither do libraries.