Jaffna Public Library


Jaffna Public Library was built in many stages starting from 1933 from a modest private collection. The library is also a repository of archival material written in palm leaf manuscripts, original copies of regionally important historic documents and newspapers that were published hundreds of years ago in the Jaffna peninsula. it became one of the biggest libraries in Asia, containing over 97,000 books and manuscripts. On the night of June 1st 1981, an organized mob with racist motives set fire to the library, burning all the  books and manuscripts. Rebuilding was complete by 2001and today it stands out architecturally in its own lush gardens. It is Sri Lanka’s second main public Library, only rivaled by the Library in Colombo.


The drain with stagnant water in front of the library, stank as before. (I remember it from my first visit four years ago!). A notice at the entrance to the library states that it is open to visitors only from 4.30 to 6pm and that visitors need to remove foot wear to “help keep the library clean.” The floors however were dirty. Almost all the rooms were not open to visitors. I could peep in to the reading room without entering it. The visit was over in less than ten mts. and I felt cheated.

At the end, I felt I got my feet dirty for nothing!





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