The National Library in Kolkata is the largest library by volume. It collects, disseminates and preserves printed material produced in India. It has a collection in excess of 22 lakh books, 86,000 maps and 3,200 manuscripts. It has 45 km of shelf space. The library has elaborate arrangements for physical conservation of books for posterity.
Founded in 1836, it was originally named Calcutta Public Library. People contributed Rs 300 in subscription and became proprietors of the library. Donations of 4,675 volumes from the library of the College of Fort William, Kolkata by the Governor General Lord Metcalfe and by individuals made this library a rare, well-organised and efficiently run institution in the late 19th century. It contains extremely rare books and journals in various languages. In 1903, Lord Curzon, the Governor General, had opened the library, now named the Imperial Library, for the use of the public. After Independence the Govt of India changed the name to National Library and shifted the collection to the present site. On Feb 2, 1953, the National Library was opened to the public. Registered users can view digitised books free of cost from the website of the National Library.