David Sassoon Library and Reading Room – A Book Lover’s Haven

David Sassoon Library and Reading Room - A book lover’s haven

The city of Mumbai reminds one of R L Stevenson’s poems ‘the Railway Carriage,’ where there is no time to ‘stand and stare.’ But amidst the hurry-scurry of Mumbai is a well amenable haven for bookworms – the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room.

David Sassoon Library Architecture

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a renowned library and heritage building in South Mumbai near the famed Kala Ghoda. The concept for a library to be established in the heart of Mumbai city was the contrivance of Sir Albert Sassoon, son of the famous Jewish philanthropist and a leading banker of Mumbai, Sir David Sassoon. The structure was outlined by architects J. Campbell and G. E. Gosling, who worked for the Scott McClelland and Company. The cost of the building amounted to Rs 1,25,000, a hefty sum in pre-independent India, nearly 150 years ago. Sir David Sassoon contributed Rs. 60000, while the rest of the expenses were borne by the Government of Bombay Presidency. The heritage building, completed in 1870, was built using yellow Malad stone, similar to some of the other heritage buildings in South Mumbai like the Elphinstone College and Army and Navy Buildings.

David Sassoon Library

A walk through the stately building gives an impression similar to that of the ‘Land of Lotus Eaters.’ The most common sight in this idyllic world is that of people reclining lazily on the armchairs and flipping through pages of books or deep in slumber. For bookworms, the David Sassoon Library is a blessing, given the fact that the city hardly has any peaceful retreats for book lovers. With the introduction of the latest facilities like WiFi, e-learning, and e-books, members and visitors can spend some quality time here gathering knowledge of all things unknown.

As one enters the daintily designed neo-gothic structure, you are greeted by a stately statue of David Sassoon. The formidable three-storied structure has columns of black trap and pointed arches, painted black and white, a distinct feature of Kala Ghoda architecture. The building is not just brick and mortar, for it opens out into a garden at the rear end. The winding wooden staircase that leads to the first floor has a stately grandeur about it, a rarity in modern structures. The turrets that are placed at corners of the grand structure recreate the atmosphere of a church, and bright colorful Milton tiles seem to welcome its readers.

David Sassoon Library Collection

David Sassoon has a stock of over 40,000 books on philosophy, history, geography, pure sciences, technology and fiction. A major part of the collection happens to be in English, but there is also a reasonably good collection of books in Hindi, Gujarathi and Marathi. The library contains about 150 rare books on ancient Indian and world history, which are dated original works of authors such as Shakespeare and Alexander Dumas coupled with valuable archeological works and books on science, technology and theology. The oldest book in its shelves dates back to 1798. Also of considerable historical significance is a collection of letters and correspondence of Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, Secretary of State to Queen Anne of England. Over the years the library has ensured that these priceless books are preserved in their original form. There is also an impressive collection of maps, drawings and sketches worth more than a passing glance. Apart from providing good reading room and lending facilities, provisions have also been made for holding seminars, exhibitions, film shows, book releases and art exhibitions.

David Sassoon Library Mumbai

David Sassoon has a stock of over 40,000 books on philosophy, history, geography, pure sciences, technology, and fiction.

A major part of the collection happens to be in English, but there is also a reasonably good collection of books in Hindi, Gujarathi, and Marathi.

The library contains about 150 rare books on ancient Indian and world history, which are dated original works of authors such as Shakespeare and Alexander Dumas coupled with valuable archeological works and books on science, technology, and theology.

The oldest book on its shelves dates back to 1798. Also of considerable historical significance is a collection of letters and correspondence of Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, Secretary of State to Queen Anne of England.

Over the years the library has ensured that these priceless books are preserved in their original form. There is also an impressive collection of maps, drawings, and sketches worth more than a passing glance.

Apart from providing a good reading room and lending facilities, provisions have also been made for holding seminars, exhibitions, film shows, book releases, and art exhibitions.