- December 11, 2020
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Bookshelf, Stories on Goa
GOA is best known for its beaches, parties, casinos, churches, food and historical places that are no longer functional such as the Augustine Tower. Very few people know about the Krishnadas Shama Library in Panjim. Its looks are deceptive with glass walls and white paint, and one is bound to think ‘a library is the last place to visit in Goa’. Well, just because the building looks modern doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a documented history.
According to its records, it is the oldest public library in India, established by the Portuguese in 1832. The collection of books in the library was influenced by many political and historical events and factors happening around that time. The library even stored some of the suppressed documents of Convents of religious orders. Today this six- storeyed building is amongst the top 50 Indian libraries and is known best for its services such as its membership which starts from just Rs. 200 and the maximum being Rs. 750, for a lifetime.
As you enter the building through one of the two ways— either the pyramid set of stairs or the long ramp—that is lined with lamps, you will straight away be introduced to the sight of many people sitting outside the glass door studying or reading, making the experience seem even more real and serious. Other than the people, sculptures of different sizes displayed in the exterior as well as the interior of the building also catch your eye. The whole building is built with square glass pieces supported with thick black columns except for the front and the back walls.
As you stand in the middle of the building on the first floor and look up, the pyramid- shaped sun is apparent in the roof above. The glass walls reflect natural light, making your eyes a wee-bit watery.
The second floor is the children’s section with several shelves of books for children with child-friendly chairs. The same floor houses the internet section, where there are cubicles with computers. Also on display here are current and old, historical maps on wooden desks.
The best part is the third floor where you get to choose the books and magazines you would like to take home.
From general novels to books on business, it’s all there stacked up on white and brown shelves. Criminology, psychology, ethics, international relations, history, Hinduism, Buddhism, feminism… Oh, it gives me goosebumps! Books are not the only thing you choose; with plenty of large tables and chairs, and comfortable single- seater sofas and tiny coffee tables situated everywhere.
The higher you go in the building, the more exciting it gets. The fourth floor gives you the same kind of chills you would get while visiting the Old Goa Church, with its historical journals carefully placed in red velvet caskets. When you are going through one of those phases when you want to open up an informative book to research instead of using the internet, the fifth floor will provide you with volumes of fat encyclopedias, or even the latest competitive exam books. The sixth floor is where the ‘gold’ is kept—37,482 volumes of books and bound journals in Portuguese, English, Latin, French… languages all acquired during Goa’s pre-liberation period.
This is considered to be the biggest repository of books in Portuguese in Asia. Many researchers fulfil their academic needs in this part of the building, referring to these Portuguese books.