Anna Centenary Library – Chennai, Tamilnadu

Image Credit: Artist’s vision, Inhabitat

Author Mala Sundar

On my recent vacation in India, my sister insisted I visit a museum in Madras (aka Chennai) called “Anna Centenary Library”. 

Photo Credit: Sankar S. CC- BY-SA- 3.0

Photo Credit: Sankar S.
CC- BY-SA- 3.0

She said that a book worm like me cannot afford to miss this sight.

She was right. It is magnificent.

You enter the building feeling as if you are entering the Roman Colosseum.

Except when you enter, the first sight is this larger-than-life sized lamp, a prominent feature in many a South Indian palace and temple (and on a much smaller scale, in the some homes).

Anna Cent-2

Photo Credit: Mala Sundar

There are seven floors to the library. The first floor (or as they say in British English, the “ground floor”) has a Braille section. The next level has a large room exclusively for students to read, write, or study. The successive floors are each dedicated to specific areas or concentrations.




Anna Cent Inside-1

Photo Credit: Mala Sundar


The children’s section reminded me of the one in Barnes & Noble in Marketfair mall, New Jersey (now relocated) but this one is built in a grandiose scale. A large “learning tree” welcomes the readers. The walls are brightly decorated with, among others, murals of scenes or characters from the Jungle Book.




Anna Cent 3

Photo Credit: Mala Sundar

I also went to the Literature floor (fourth one, I think). Lovely collection. I could spend the whole day just reading book after book. There was one floor for just books written in Tamil. I did not go in since my Tamil is awful! Since I was visiting, I could not find any flaws. However, I understand that the library does not allow books to be borrowed. If I lived there, it would be somewhat of a put-off since to me, a purely reference library is less personal and more clinical, a purely subjective emotion on my part, I am sure!

By librariesilove Posted in India

One comment on “Anna Centenary Library – Chennai, Tamilnadu

  1. Dear Ms. Sundar,
    The reason the library is not developing is because Ms. Jayalalitha tried to shift it away from the building that had been built specifically for it. The case may be still in court. Until it is settled the ibrary will be at a standstill….

    The main reason for her decision may be spite… the library was planned and built by the opposition party DMK…


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