The old ways of reading have certainly been dying a slow death, but like everything else that’s going extinct today, there’s a surprisingly large number of people who (thankfully) refuse to give up turning-the-page kind of book experience. The joy of curling up with a book while taking in the fresh musty smell of their pages isn’t something that they’d consider a tradable commodity, and libraries have become the central attraction for this dying culture.
Mumbai itself never gave up on library culture. With over 10 fantastic options for bibliophiles, it’s home to all shapes, sizes and types of libraries right from those that harbour ancient manuscripts, to libraries solely dedicated to specific genres like performing arts or health, to a free-for-all library!
Here’s a run-down of Mumbai’s 10 most resourceful libraries, that will have you rushing for a library card this monsoon!
One of the oldest libraries in the city.
Where: Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort
Established in 1804, The Asiatic Library is an iconic city structure in classical Greek and Roman architecture; a grand flight of 30 stairs leads the way to the Grecian portico lined with eight Doric-styled columns. The inner space of the library is done up in wooden flooring with a spiral staircase that leads to a terrace adorned with wrought iron, while the libraries’s vestibule boasts of fine marble statues and portraits; an old world charm for you retro lovers. Their spacious reading room made quaint with surrounding artefacts is perfect for anyone looking for a quiet time with their books.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: The library has around 25,000 to 30,000 rare collections of books along with manuscripts, scrolls, magazines and newspapers.
Membership: Fill in the membership form at the library or click here to download it and submit it at the library.
Fee: Reader membership INR 500 (three books a month) Resident membership INR 1500 (15 books a month) .
When to swing by: Between 10:30 am-6:30 pm Monday to Saturday. Remains closed on Sundays and national holidays.
Has one of the most extensive collection of British literature in the city.
Where: 901, 9th Floor, Tower 1, One Indiabulls Centre, Senapati Bapat Marg, Elphinstone Road (West)
Apart from books, you can also borrow magazines, films, theatre videos, music and newspapers. In addition they also have a digital library, workshops and cultural events which you can be part of as a member in any of their nine libraries across India. Their quiet and spacious purpose built study area is perfect or a undisturbed read.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: Free home-delivery of books with no due date on books borrowed or late fee on their return!
Membership: Click here to pay online or visit the library.
Fees: INR 1800 to borrow upto six items at a time.
When to swing by: Between 10am-6pm from Monday to Saturday. Remains closed on Sundays.
Where: Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda
One of the oldest libraries in Mumbai, they have a great collection of ancient books, dating back as early as 1789, on social sciences and literature of regional languages among other subjects. In 2006, it was named as one among the 47 classical libraries of the world!
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: Housing almost 70,000 books in its Venetian Gothic architectural structure, this library has an archaic appeal that resonates throughout its structure. It also has its own garden filled with jackfruit, mango and coconut trees; an idyll in the middle of the bustling city.
Fee: INR 4000 (1500 will be refundable on termination of membership)
When to swing by: Between 8am-9pm from Monday to Sunday.
Houses an exhaustive collection of American literature
Where: The American Consulate, Bandra-Kurla Complex
This library has 11,000 books on American literature, be it best-sellers, books on art, science or even business and academic periodicals.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: It is spacious and well-equipped, allowing you to sit for hours and read to your hearts content. If you want to take a break from your reading, watch a movie from their collection of classic American films.
Membership: Click here to become a member.
Fee: INR 400 for unlimited borrowing.
When to swing by: 8am-4.30 pm between Monday and Friday. Remains closed on the weekends.
First ever crowd-sourced library in India
Where: Evershine City, Vasai (East)
This nameless library is a crowd-sourced one whose motto is- ‘Books from the people, for the people’ where the collection consists of donations from various institutes and individuals.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: If you are tight on money and time this is the perfect solution to both your dilemmas; they let you borrow and deliver books for absolutely free of cost as of now.
When to swing by: They haven’t created a space where members can visit or sit and read books. Their updated book list is available on their Facebook page. Take your pick and they will arrive with it at your doorstep
A specially curated library with a spacious reading room for members.
Where: Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Lower Parel
They have a curated collection of books within different genres, making sure that there is something for everyone. Being avid readers themselves, the owners have taken extra efforts to create the perfect environment to enjoy a book. They also organize some really fun workshops and literary events regularly.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: A quiet, quaint space away from the hustle and bustle of the city, set with wooden flooring and wooden chairs that makes it a perfect place to just curl up with a good book and enjoy the day.
Fee: INR 3000 for unlimited books.
When to swing by: Between 11 AM - 9 PM on any day of the week.
VII. Help Education Library for People (HELP)
Exclusive collection of health-related books
Where: DN Road, Tardeo
This library wishes to keep its members fit by offering over 11,000 books and audio visual material falling under various sections of health such as fitness, diet, exercise and diseases. Their aim is to make every individual aware of their rights and responsibilities as a patient, spread awareness about various illness and the prevention methods which can help achieve a healthier India.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: Apart from reading healthy the library also lets you attend various lectures on health conducted health professionals on their premises.
Membership: Free of cost.
When to swing by: Between 10am to 6:30 pm from Monday to Saturday. It remains closed on Sundays.
VIII. Leaping Windows
First ever comic book library in India
Where: Yari Road, Versova, Andheri
Inspired by Japanese Manga cafes, this library with its vast collection of DC, Marvel, Vertigo and some great independent graphic novels; is one of our personal favourites from the list.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: Nothing like sipping a hot cup of coffee while reading about your favourite comic.
When to swing by: Open from 10 AM till as late as 11 PM everyday, which means you can drop in even after a long, tiring day at office to unwind.
IX. Mcubed Library
Curated by mothers in order to inculcate reading habits in children.
Where: D’Monte Park Road, Bandra
With over 10,000 books to offer, this library is for kids and young adults interested in children’s literature.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: Their vibrantly painted walls and coloured paper lamps, completely set with low seating, makes it a very friendly space for you to sit and enjoy a book.
Membership: You can avail the membership at the library itself.
Fee: INR 2,200 (Rs 1000 refundable on termination of membership)
All this can be availed for a nominal membership cost of INR. 100 per month and a deposit of INR. 250 for every book you borrow.
When to swing by: Between 10 AM - 8 PM all through the week.
X. NCPA Library
Exclusive collection of books on fine and performing arts.
Where: Nariman Point
This library has an extensive collection of books on music, dance, film, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, television, fashion and even magic, dealing with theoretical as well as practical aspects of these subjects.
What makes it a bibliophile’s heaven: They have treatises on Indian music published before 1900, autobiographies and biographies of almost every important Western classical music singer from the 18th century up to the present and when you want a break from the reading you can choose from over 5,000 records covering all genres of music.
Membership: You can register online here or visit the library.
Fee: INR 7500 (This is inclusive of special offers for all NCPA shows and other benefits which can be viewed here.)
When to swing by: Between 10am and 6pm from Monday-Friday. It remains closed on weekends.
[Know of any quaint, little libraries that we’ve missed out on? Let us (and all the other bibliophiles) know in the comments section below.]
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