Friday, February 25, 2011

Connemara Library, Chennai - Disappointing

I've spent nearly 2/3rd of my life in Chennai - but I had never been to Connemara Public Library. Whenever I cross Pantheon road, I remind myself to visit Connemara library ... someday. Finally, the day came. I visited Connemara library two weeks ago. It is conveniently located in Pantheon Road, Egmore and very accessible to people from Nungambakkam, Chetput, and Mount Road. It is located in a huge campus which was mostly abandoned. (Also read: American Library in US Consulate - for history lovers)

There are a number of facilities inside the campus - most of them out of operation or closed. The campus also houses Chennai Government museum among other things. On the day that I visited (a Saturday), a Chennai corporation school had brought their students to the library. It was fun to watch the kids running all around with curiosity.  (Also read: Semmozhi Poonga - Greenway in the heart of Chennai City)

I've seen the interiors of the "old building" in several movies and I was longing to see that. To my surprise, the library has moved to a new building and the old/legacy Connemara library is under preservation. 

The new library is located in a multi-storeyed complex. The library had books covering almost all the subject - right from new age computer technology books to old age "Tholkappiams" & "Manimekalais". The folks who were there are mostly poor/middle class students, old/retired people, and the folks who are trying to kill time. I believe the library serves as a good resource for students who cannot afford costly books. I didn't see many "rich" or "middle aged" people there. (Also read: Visit to World Classical Tamil Meet - 2010)

Though the library has a good collection in terms of "quantity" I seriously doubt the "quality" of the books. Most of the books (except for engineering or management books) are at least 50+ years old and they're in a pathetic condition. The books looked like a person in hospital after a serious accident - stitched everywhere, or with patches/tapes all over. Some of the aisles were stinking because of the large volumes of old books. The library also has a computer room and digital collection (CDs, DVDs etc.,) - once again, targeted at students.

I saw administrative people only in the ground floor. There weren't people available to help/assist the visitors in 2nd or 3rd floors.

I saw a canteen in the Connemara Library campus - however it was empty. There was a petty shop selling Aavin drinks. There are playing structures for kids - most of them are broken/rusty. There is place for school students to sit and eat. There was a small store selling books - which had a good collection of books to buy.

I saw a few foreigners/tourists visiting the library and the Chennai Government museum.

There is no entry fee for visiting the library. You can be a member by paying an annual subscription of Rs.50. You need to pay Rs.300 to borrow up to 6 books. You've to get the signature of a Grade A or Grade B government officer to be a member (not sure about the purpose this serves).

I was quite disappointed with my visit and I decided not to become a member of Connemara Library. I'm eagerly looking forward to visiting Anna Centenary library. I heard good feedback about Anna Centenary library from my friends.

Also read:

American Library in US Consulate - for history lovers
Anna Tower Park - A Boon for Anna Nagar residents

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