The Lang Library: A priceless treasure

Image: The Lang Library front facade

The Lang Library, is one of the oldest public libraries in western India. It was established in the year 1856 in Rajkot, a city in the present-day state of Gujarat. The library has undergone many changes in its nomenclature, and is currently called as Arvindbhai Maniyar Library. It was set up in the memory of Colonel William Lang, a British officer who was posted as a political agent of the ‘Kathiawar region’ during 1846 to 1859 in India. The library is a visual delight with its limestone structure in

Image: The Lang Library display of the best library award received thrice

Image: The Lang Library display of the best library award received thrice

Mid-Victorian architectural style and design; ornately decorated ceiling and stained glass windows. It offers an escape into a time zone reflecting India’s imperial past.

The library user pleasantly shares the space with the vast collection of marble sculptures, marble tablets with inscriptions and oil paintings.  The library executive council had the honor of having Karamchand Gandhi, as a member along with other stalwarts from the community. After a massive earthquake hit many parts of Gujarat in 2001, Lang Library had to undergo massive repairs and renovation work. New additions have been sensitively designed to blend in with the overall splendor of the architectural design of this monumental building.

The Display Window

The Display Window

It has a small but unique collection of resources in languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu literature, and rare books. In recent times the library has automated its services. It is a pioneer in installing the automatic vertical carousel storage system in India.

Suggestion Box placed next to a Longcase Clock

Suggestion Box placed next to a Longcase Clock

The library through its various programs invites outstanding social activists, thinkers, poets, and journalists to deliver lectures. Exhibitions on Gandhian Literature, Sri Aurobindo Literature, Parsi and Jain literature highlighting their unique collections are held at regular intervals reflecting the diversity and richness of the collection.  Special focus is given to activities designed for children and women. Amidst the challenge of funding and maintaining a heritage building, the library now plans to digitize its rare book collection at the earliest.

 

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Bhakti Gala, ILN Content Officer

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One Comment

  1. Sadly we do not seem to have the same ‘pride’ in libraries here any more. Just diminishing sadly for me. Oh well I have my own special one at home, no one can destroy that! I try to ‘save’ as many books as I can between my daughter and I. Set up a street library instead of throwing out please.

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