Monday, January 12, 2015

Patriotic bookplace

In 1904, Krishnaswami Aiyer and Sundara Iyer decided to honour the social reformer Mahadeo Govind Ranade, who had died in 1901. The manner they chose was to establish the Ranade Institute to conduct research on law, economics and politics. Such an institute needed a proper library and therefore it became the first part of the proposed institute to be set up. The foundation stone was laid by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in July 1904 and the library came up in quick time.

Within a couple of decades, the library needed more space. The land it was occupying, which was on Brodie's Castle Road (now R.K.Mutt Road) had been gifted to it by Raghunatha Rao. The South Indian National Association, which had been formed to manage the Ranade Institute, decided to sell the property and the proceeds funded the acquisition of these premises on Luz Church Road. In 1928, the Library moved to this location. 

With the Institute itself not showing any signs of coming up, the SINA decided to expand the Library. A lecture hall was added in 1955 and it was named after V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, who had served as a vice-president of the SINA for a while. Since then, the Hall and the Library have been in continuous use. The books here are truly a treasure trove for anyone wanting to research the early twentieth century. The annual membership of the Ranade Library at Mylapore is just Rs.100. It must have been less than a hundredth of this amount when the library started functioning!

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