Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVIII No. 13, October 16-31, 2018

A Kalaignar dream comes alive

by R.V. Rajan

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The Anna Centenary Library. (Photo by R. Raja Pandiyan.)

Anna Centenary Library (ACL), a dream project of the former Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, was inaugurated in September, 2010. However, I got to visit this awesome, state-of-the-art library only a few days ago. I must thank Arvind, a relative from the USA who persuaded me to accompany him on his visit to the library and Jagadish, the former Director of Library in the U.S.Consulate General, Chennai, for taking us on a conducted tour of it.

The built-up area of this centrally air-conditioned library is 3.75 lakh sq.ft., encompassing ground and eight floors. At present, it hosts five lakh books covering a wide range of subjects to serve the information needs of the public, academic and corporate community. ACL has a Braille Section, Own Books Reading Section, Children’s Section, Periodicals and Newspapers Section, Tamil Books Section, an English Books Section, and an archive of old manuscripts. In addition, the library has two fully equipped Conference Halls – one that can accommodate 150 people and another that can accommodate 1100 people (under renovation). There is also an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 800. An Aavin Milk Bar and a cafeteria complete the facilities available.

While Arvind went berserk shooting pictures of palm leaf manuscripts in the archive section, I was impressed with the “Own books reading” section which was packed with students, most of them from not so privileged backgrounds, reading in the quiet and comfortable ambience provided by the library. It seems hundreds of aspirants writing Public Service examinations also patronise the library. The children`s section is equally impressive, with facilities for conducting activity-based learning.

ACL is only a reference library. Books are not lent out. But, there is no registration fee for using its services.

Though it went through a lean period during the Jayalalithaa regime, the library is coming back to life because of the support being received from the present government. The management has recently started having regular literary meetings over the week-ends providing opportunities for budding and well known authors to interact with their readers.

Undoubtedly, Anna Centenary Library, among his other ideas, will remain one of the most enduring contribution of Kalaignar Karunanidhi, built to commemorate the 102nd Birth Anniversary of his mentor Anna.

If you have not visited this Library located on Gandhi Mandapam Road in Kotturpuram, I urge you to do so. You will feel proud that such a wonderful library of international standards, exists in our own Chennai.

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