“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein
And who are we to argue with Einstein? So with that command from the smartest man ever to have been born, The Good City crew presents, the Libraries of Bengaluru.
From the more famous ones like the British Council Library on Kasturba Road, to the lesser known ones such as The Mythic Society Library and The Muslim Library, here’s our comprehensive guide for the city’s bibliophiles.
1. The Muslim Library (Shivajinagar)
The year was 1912. Prose & poetry by intellectuals were igniting the minds of the youth across the country, inspiring them to join the Freedom Movement. Fueled by this rise of intellectualism, a group of Muslim historians, advocates, academics, and business owners established this library, to give the city a progressive public space.
From the original rented room which housed 900 books, the Muslim Library moved to its current location where it holds over 25,000 rare books and manuscripts. A lot of these are in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. It also has rare Urdu translations of the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita and the Bible. Its patrons are mostly senior citizens, but it has a loyal following amongst younger researchers as well.
Address: 08, Veerapillai Street, Near-Yejman Mal Alli, Shivaji Nagar, Bengaluru – 560001
Ph: 094490 02947
2. The Indian Institute of World Culture (Basavanagudi)
This is the place to immerse oneself in philosophy, history, works on arts and music, contemporary fiction and select Kannada titles.
The IIWC was established in 1945 with the aim of fostering a cosmopolitan spirit among citizens. Its founders, BP Wadia and his wife, Sophia Wadia based the organisation on ideas of a ‘universal brotherhood’. It was conceived not as an academy for scholars, but as a centre for ordinary men and women to develop themselves. To this end, IIWC maintains a general library, with over 40,000 books in different languages, some over 400 years old. There is a separate section for children’s books, and a magazine section subscribing to over 400 periodicals.
Address: 6, BP Wadia Road, Basavanagudi, Bengaluru – 560004; Phone: 080 2667 8581
3. Seshadri Memorial Library (Cubbon Park)
Also called the State Central Library, this is a space a book lover could fancy being locked inside for days on end. It houses over 2.5 lakh books, which include great works of literature, and a copy of every single book published in Karnataka since 1970. It also has a dedicated Braille section.
The library was built in 1915 in memory of the Dewan of Mysore, Sir K Seshadri Iyer. The distinctive red stone, European architecture, a beautiful rose garden out front, and its location within the serenity of Cubbon Park makes for an inspiring reading atmosphere.
Address: Cubbon Park, Near Century Club, Bengaluru – 560001; Phone: 080 2286 7358
4. The Mythic Society Library (Nrupatunga Road)
The Mythic Society Library was founded in 1909 with the purpose of encouraging young students to study history. This landmark on Nrupatunga Road is now a public reference library on Indology and houses over 40,000 books. With Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts; documents in Kannada, Marathi and Persian; and books detailing the history of Mysore, it is an ideal destination for PhD scholars and history buffs.
Address: 14/1, Nrupathunga Road, Opposite Reserve Bank, Bengaluru – 560001; Phone: 080 2221 5034
5. British Council Library (Kasturba Road)
British Council Libraries are a haven for book lovers in most major Indian metros, and Bengaluru is no different. Established in 1960, this modern library has kept pace with the internet era. Its 7500 members have access to Wi-Fi in the well-ordered reading space inside. It also has an online inventory of more than 22,000 e-books and a completely digitised cataloguing system. In addition to management books and prep guides for international examinations, it has a wide selection of British literature, fiction, autobiographies, and reference books. It maintains a small section for DVDs, and an exhaustive collection of magazines, periodicals and journals.
Address: Prestige Takt 23 Kasturba Cross Road Bengaluru – 560 001 ; Phone: +91 0120-4569000, +91 0120-6684353
6. City Central Library (Jayanagar)
What would Southend Circle be without its library?
While there are 19 City Central Libraries across Bangalore’s five zones, the one in Jayanagar (south zone) is a definite favourite. Inaugurated in 1968, it currently has an inventory of more than 50,000 books, with mostly academic content. This spacious library is mostly used by students.
Address: Jayanagar 3rd Block, South End Circle, Opposite Vivek Showroom, Bengaluru – 560011;Phone: 080 2654 8829
It goes without saying that a good book is an escape from the world; a journey into new and unexplored universes bursting with stories and destinies so similar to ours and yet so different.
Losing yourself in these worlds while seated in a library, where the air is heavy with the weight of undiscovered stories, is a magic unto itself. For all that Bangalore is a city of high rises and bustling modernity, she still has these little pockets of this magic available for those who know where to find them!
If you like the idea of exploring the city further, take a look at our piece on Bengaluru Markets, our post and video on walking through The Towns of Our City, the Expat Trees of Bengaluru, and much more.
Research by Ashwini Nagaraja