Oldest Active Libraries in Mumbai: A Book Lover’s Paradise

Oldest Active Libraries in Mumbai

Oldest Active Libraries in Mumbai: A Book Lover’s Paradise for all Bombayites

For many bibliophiles, reading is not a choice. It is more of a passion. And libraries are the sacred places that fulfill this passion. In today’s world, modern technology has replaced all traditional methods. However, the love for a hardcover book never changes.

Nothing can beat the experience of reading old books. Especially enjoying the aromatic hints of vellichor. Most importantly, you get the opportunity of researching through hundreds of books in pure tranquility. Even today, libraries remain a necessity.


Here are the best and oldest libraries in Mumbai:

Mumbai is the dream city for many people around the country. It is a fascinating city for its contemporary advancement and strong cultural roots. The city never gave up on library culture. There are many establishments that still stand strong and house decades-old manuscripts. It’s home to almost all types of libraries. You can find performing arts libraries, ancient manuscripts, and even free-for-all libraries!

These libraries remain resolute for many decades. They showcase the city’s cultural value, rich history, and Victorian aesthetics.

1. David Sassoon Library – An Obsolete Old-school Library of Mumbai

If you are into the vibe of antiquated architecture and structures, David Sassoon Library is the best place for you. Established in the year 1870, David Sassoon Library is one of the oldest libraries in India. It has a plethora of book collections with the rage shooting up to 70,000 in all genres. Besides the quaint reading room, there is also a balcony that looks out onto Kala Ghoda. The library also has a garden in the backyard, with a canopy of trees surrounded. These additional features to a regular library make David Sassoon Library an ideal place for reading!

Membership fees: INR 4000 (1500 will be refundable on termination of membership)

Location: Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda

Timings: Between 8 am-9 pm from Monday to Sunday.

2. The Asiatic Society of Mumbai – Oldest Library in the city

The Asiatic Society library houses around 25,000 to 35,000 rare collections. This collection includes books along with manuscripts, scrolls, newspapers, and magazines.

Established in 1804, The Asiatic Society of Mumbai is one of the most ancient structures in the city. It is Roman and Greek-influenced architecture, making it look very grandeur and classic. A grand flight of 30 stairs leads the way to the Grecian portico lined with eight Doric-styled columns. The whole structure is painted in pure white from the outside. The interior of the library is decked with hard wooden floors and a spiral staircase that leads up to the terrace. It also adorns beautiful grand marble statues and portraits in its vestibule.

The Asiatic Society of Mumbai is an old-world charm for all retro and aesthetic lovers. Their spacious reading rooms made quaint with surrounding artifacts are a perfect place for you and your new book.

Membership fees: Reader membership INR 500 (three books a month) Resident membership INR 1500 (15 books a month).

Location: Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort

Timings: Between 10:30 am-6:30 pm Monday to Saturday. Remains closed on Sundays and national holidays.

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3. JN Petit Library – The Imperial Reading Space for Students

The JN Petit Library has been standing strong since 1856. This imperial-style building is nestled in Fort. The aura of the library makes your bibliophile-self very comfortable. The sheer experience of this library is a great escape for any book lover.

This library has a separate room that is dedicated to old and rare copies. Manuscripts and journals. This is the greatest strength and USP of JN Petit Library. The library houses massive collections of books, manuscripts, magazine,s and journals of up to 15,000 copies!

Above all, they regularly update their collection, so if you are looking for new stock… you can easily spot one here!

Membership fees: Rs 500 (for six months)

Location: JN Petit Institute, 312, DN Road, Fort

Timings: Monday – Friday, 9 am to 6:30 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm; Sunday closed

4. NCPA Mumbai – Exclusive Collection of books on Performing Arts

NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) was inaugurated in December 1969. It is known as India’s premier cultural institution. Its library has an extensive collection of books on music, dance, film, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, television, fashion, and even magic. It is divided into three sections – NCPA Music Library, NCPA Reference Library, and The Stuart Liff Collection.

Firstly, the Music Library consists of 5,622 records, 1,396 cassettes, and 116 CDS covering many styles of music. Secondly, the Reference Library has an extensive collection of books on Music, Dance, and Theatre. Thirdly, they have added a collection of western classics as well. It is a collection of books donated by Vivian Liff world-famous Stuart-Liff Collection. This collection has 6,000 books and 11,000 LPs on Western classical music.

To sum up, The NCPA is committed to preserving and promoting India’s rich and vibrant artistic heritage.

Membership fees: INR 7500 (This is inclusive of special offers for all NCPA shows and other benefits)

Location: Nariman Point

Timings: Between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday-Friday. It remains closed on weekends.

5. People’s Free Reading And Library – Primeval Free-for-All Library

If you are looking for a British-era Library around Mumbai, this library is another one to add to your list.

This library is tucked in South Bombay, this place has a great collection of books. Most of the publications stored are dated back to the British era. It has a dedicated section for students and offers them subsidized membership fees. The reading room is always full but, its vibrant aura helps you drown in your book.

They have dedicated a small section for newspapers. You can catch up on all the news around the world in a peaceful corner.

Membership fees: The lifetime membership costs INR 1,500 out of which INR 1,000 is refundable.

Location: J.S.S. Road, Opp Metro Inox Cinemas, Dhobitalao, Sonapur, Marine Lines

Timings: Students (Mon to Fri, 8 am to 7 pm, Sundays and public holidays, 8 am to 6 pm); non-students (Mon to Sat, 9 am to 8 pm, Sundays and public holidays, 9 am to 1 pm), magazine and books reading, 8 am to noon.

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