Mumbai’s historical David Sassoon Library and Reading Room reopens

June 14th, 2009 - 8:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Mumbai, June 14 (ANI): The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room that was set up in 1870 at Mumbai is a treasure trove of both knowledge and information.

The library was closed in January for renovation, and reopened on June 9 for the public with almost doubled seating arrangements.

The library has over 500 rare manuscripts and many other publications of historical relevance.

It boasts of more than 5000 members.

“Well, earlier, the reading hall had a sitting capacity of 60-65. We have almost doubled the seating capacity right now. And we also plan to make the library Wi-Fi also initiate add Internet facilities…all those procedures are in place,” said Vivekanand Ajgaonkar, President, David Sassoon Library and Reading Room.

This library is open 365 days and is very popular with visitors.

However, the authorities are finding it difficult to preserve the rare books and manuscripts in the library due to paucity of funds.

“We have a collection of about 40,000 books in Indian languages as well as in English. And there are some of the books that are almost 500 of them almost are quiet rare. Because of paucity of funds we find it difficult to preserve them,” said Ajgaonkar.

Incidentally, this library as well as the building housing it, feature in the list of 145 old buildings that have been declared as protected monuments and sites by the government.

Architects J. Campbell and G. E. Gosling designed it for the Scott McClelland and Company,

The birth of this library is attributed to a few young mechanics working in the Royal Mint and the Bombay Dockyard in 1847. They formed a study group to share and promote knowledge.

Their objectives at that time were to set up a library and a museum of mechanical models and architectural designs, as well as to organise lectures and discussions on science and technology, thus was born the Sassoon Mechanics Institute.

Albert Sassoon, the son of David Sassoon, the famous Jew philanthropist of Baghdad, helped realize the dreams of these youngsters.

However, with the stoppage of the annual grant by the imperial government, its activities gradually came to a standstill until the institute was reduced to its present state, namely a library and a reading room.

Consequently in March 1938 the Sassoon Mechanics Institute was rechristened as David Sassoon Library and Reading Room. (ANI)

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