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Rashtrapati Bhavan library gets a facelift

Rashtrapati Bhavan library gets a facelift
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‘I can spend all five years sitting in this library and reading,’ said President Pranab Mukherjee while touring the newly renovated Rashtrapati Bhavan library that has been brought to its original glory.

The library, designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens and located in north east corner of Rashtrapati Bhavan, was dumped with books till Mukherjee, an avid reader of history, decided to renovate it.

Extra books shelves have been removed to create space and a table with chairs designed by Lutyens himself add to the grace of this relatively small yet elegant portion of the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan.

After four months of careful renovation, a brightly lit library, with a view of Raisina Hill, welcomes guests with 4,000 titles neatly stacked in British-era wooden cupboards, the oldest one being Alexander Beatson’s War with Tippoo Sultan and the Siege of Seringapatnam, published in 1800.
Edward Foster’s British Gallery of Engravings from the Pictures of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch and English Schools, which has signature of Viceroy Lord Curzon, is another rare piece from the collection, which was gifted to him by Raja of Tripura.

The library also has collection of early editions of Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire, which was published on Saturdays in 19th and 20th Century.

‘The library has over 24,000 books but only 4,000 have been put on display. The rest are being catalogued, arranged and if needed restored to original condition,’ press secretary to president Venu Rajamony said.

The results of renovation work seemed to have impressed Mukherjee who saw the new arrangements with enthusiasm and inquired about the collection from his staff.

Underlining that Rashtrapati Bhavan library is a huge resource for any researcher, he President said said there was need to renovate the library because it has got some of the rarest books which needed protection and restoration.

A plan is being chalked out to digitise the catalogue and make it available on the web site so that interested scholars can put in their request for a particular book and be allowed to read them, Rajamony said.
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