“Libraries are not just about books, they are spaces that need to be experienced.”

In the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city stands India’s oldest library—the State Central Library. 

State Central Library, Kerala

A traditional red-and-white Victorian-style building, it was built during Travancore’s King Swathi Thirunal’s reign in 1829, this library is also known as Trivandrum People’s Library.

With a heritage-oriented architecture and classic red brick model, the library has a separate children’s library on its campus. 

The library initially only kept English books and was exclusively open for elites and British officers despite being called “Trivandrum People’s Library”.

It wasn’t long before the local residents started opposing the elitist restriction and formed their own People’s Library in the 1870s. 

In due time, the government took over the Trivandrum People’s Library in 1899 and opened it to the public, making it a public library at last!

The current building was built in 1902 as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria and the People’s Library was merged with it.

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Soon, the library became a meeting point for the brilliant minds of the period. “All prominent writers would spend hours here every day,” says Asokan P.U., deputy state librarian.

Interestingly, the library has three wings, with an exclusive wing for Malayalam literature. Translations from Bengali and Spanish literature seem to garner a lot more attention though.

According to Librarian Ansar A.P., who is in charge of the Malayalam literature wing, novels are favourites.

“Books of both new generation writers and stalwarts have many takers,” he says, pointing to the empty shelves named after them. “M.T. Vasudevan Nair is an all-time favourite.”

It’s almost magical as one walks through the premises dotted with a giant banyan and sandalwood trees. One can see readers of all ages walking in and out of the library. 

And, one realises what the librarians said was true: “Those who have visited this library will never say reading is dying.”

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Week, The Hindu, Notion Press

Find the blogger: @Drishti Shroff

This post is tagged under: Oldest Indian Library, Books, Experience, Old is Gold, Books, Trivandrum Public Library, Victorian Architecture, British Rule, Oldest Library, Reading, Malyalam Books, Heritage Site, Library

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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