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Chennai now boasts South Asia's largest library

Last updated: 16 September, 2010
M R Venkatesh, Chennai, Sep 15, DHNS: 0:36 IST

In a big boost to book lovers, the publishing industry and to the public library networking concept, the Anna Centenary Library (ACL), a magnificent eight-storey structure said to be South Asias largest and most elegantly designed state-of-the-art library, was unveiled here on Wednesday evening.

The new library is triggered by an inspiration to match the most impressive library in the region, the National University Library in Singapore. With this, the DMK government added another public building of notice to the city’s architectural landscape since its prestigious new Assembly complex.

Built over a massive area of 3.75 lakh sq ft in Kotturpuram, the state PWD has spent about Rs 180 cr on this big-ticket expenditure.

The ACL, which was declared open here on Wednesday by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in the presence of Finance Minister K Anbazhagan and School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu among other top ministers and dignitaries, is designed to stock a massive 1.20 million books in all major languages of the world, besides providing access to two lakh ‘e-books’ and 20,000 ‘e-journals’.

The ACL will not only be networked to all other public libraries across the state led by the famous Connemara Public Library in Chennai, but will also accommodate the country’s oldest manuscript library here called ‘The Oriental Manuscripts Library’, officials said. The latter is now housed in the Madras University Library complex.

A “very special feature” of the ACL is that it would straightaway have a digital edge, being a partner of the World Digital Library (WDL) project, says Thennarasu. This will give it access to primary sources of knowledge of countries and cultures across the globe. So far, the Allama Iqbal Library of the University of Kashmir is the only library in the country connected to the WDL network.

To start with, four floors of the centrally air-conditioned Library are ready. The more than two-year-long project will take some more time to be fully operational. However, sources said, this delay has been offset by a number of novel and attractive features of world class standards incorporated in the ACL. These include a Braille section for the visually impaired, a captivating separate section for children’s books with a huge replica of the “Tree of Knowledge” rooted in its heart, a 1,280-capacity auditorium, two conference halls to hold major seminars and an amphitheatre that can take in more than 800 people at a time. A food court with a range of cuisine is another facility. All these should attract more youths in particular, officials hoped.

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