December 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Restoration Underway at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Library

800px-Indian_President_House.jpgThe library at the presidential palace of India, "Rashtrapati Bhavan," is undergoing a major facelift. India's president, Pranab Mukherjee, a confirmed bibliophile, wants the library restored to its mid-20th century glory.

The library had fallen into disuse.  The primary source of a natural light for the room, a large sunlight in the ceiling, was hidden behind a cloth.  Temporary bookshelves, crammed with books, were filling up most of the available space.

Mukherjee wants the library to restored to its original condition, when it first opened in the 1950s.  There will be a huge wooden desk in the center of the room with classical paintings adorning the walls. The marble floors will shine once again.  Only historically relevant books will kept and they will be properly catalogued and shelved.

A number of books from the early 19th century are present, including books owned by former Viceroys of India.  Highlights include Beaston's A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultan (1800); Viceroy Lord Curzon's copy of Forster's British Gallery of Engravings: from pictures of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools (1807), and a significant run of Punch.

After the restoration, the library will again feature in tours of Rashtrapati Bhavan.  Researchers will also be able to apply for a special permit to study there.  The library is also exploring the possibility of digitizing the collection.

[Image from Wikipedia]