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About Library

Prof.D.N. Marshall Auditorium

The University of Mumbai (Bombay) was established in 1857. In August, 1864, Premchand Roychand, a merchant prince of Bombay, offered to the University a donation of Rs. 2,00,000 "towards the erection of a university library which may be an ornament to the city, and by becoming a storehouse of t he learned works, not only of the past but of many generations to come, may be the means of promoting the high ends of the University."

Two months later this gift was followed by another gift of Rs. 2,00,000 from the same donor for a clocktower in connection with the library to perpetuate the memory of his mother Mrs. Rajabai. The foundation-stone of the library and the Rajabai Clock tower was laid on March 1, 1869, and the work was completed in November 1878. It was formally opened to readers on February 27, 1880, after a conversazione by the Chancellor. The building then housed not only the library but also the administrative office and was also the venue of the post-graduate lectures.

In 1879, the library consisted mainly of the following collections :-

1)  a number of miscellaneous books (mostly historical and biographical) presented by the Government in 1864, when the old library of the East India Company, was removed to the India Office some of the books being divided among the Indian Universities.

2)  Dr. John Wilson's Collection : This was purchased in 1876 by the University from the heirs of Dr.Wilson (after whom the Wilson College is named) and consisted mainly of Orientalia, and books on travel and theology.

3)  books presented to the University.

In the early years, the library had an annual book budget of Rs. 400 but this was later discontinued so that in about 1900 we find that " the only additions now made to the library are the official publications sent in by the local Government and the Government of India and some school and college books presented by publishers." The library then had 4,504 books and 214 manuscripts.

It was only after Sir Alfred Hopkinson's report of 1914 that attention began to be paid to the planning and development of the library. Sir Alfred suggested the appointment of an experienced Library. Committee under the control of the University Syndicate control of the University Syndicate.

The annual grant to the library was renewed but the amount was not fixed and it varied according to circumstances. In 1930, the library got a non-recurring grant of Rs. 50,000 from the Government to strengthen its collection for post-graduate work. In July 1932, a book grant of Rs. 8,500 was made. It was increased to Rs. 18,500 in the following year and the year later to Rs. 20,000. Thanks to the various loans and donations including from the U.G.C., the India Wheat Loan Fund and other individuals and organizations, the library's stock of books and periodicals has been steadily growing and the library today is literally bursting through its seams, even though four tier annexe to the main library building to provide space for 2,20,000 books was built in 1959.

The library is particularly rich in various reference materials, bibliographical tools, books on Mathematics, the Social Sciences and Indology. It also has a valuable and rare collection of back files of periodicals in Sciences, the Social Sciences and Indology.

The library possesses more than 1,190 manuscripts. in Arabic, Persian and Urdu and about 7,418 in Sanskrit and allied languages.

A descriptive catalogue of the Arabic, Persian and Urdu manuscripts in the library compiled by Khan Bahadur Abdul Kadir-e-Sarfaraz was published in 1935. This collection contains manuscripts on the Islamic theology, logic metaphysics, Sufism, history, biography, literature, lexicography, astrology and astronomy, medicine, archery, falconry, Dakhni language and Zoroastrianism. There are also translations of Sanskrit works.

The second collection of the Arabic, Persian and Urdu manuscripts. which contains some valuable manuscripts. in Dakhni Urdu belonged to the alte Maulvi Muhammad Yusuf Khatkhatay of Bombay. This collection was brought to the notice of the University by Professor A. A. A. Fayzee and it was purchased for the library from the heirs of the late Maulvi Saheb. A catalogue of this collection is under preparation.

A valuable collection of 160 Arabic manuscripts. was donated by Professor Fayzee in 1962. These deal with law, history, theology and philosophy of Mustalian Ismailis, popularly known as Daudi and Sulaymani Bohras. This collection has a special significance because it makes available to scholars and research workers material which was deemed to be highly secret and not allowed to be in the hands of non-sectarians. Some of the unique items in this collection are :
"Kitabul Islam" and Alamun-nubuwa", two important works of the first Ismaili author, Abu Hatik ar-Razi; most of the works of Fatimid period; some of the works of Mu'ayyad fid-din ash-Shirazi, another famous writer of the Fatimid period. A descriptive catalogue of this collection compiled by Professor Muizz Goriawala was published in 1965.

Roychand donated another Rs. 2,00,000/- to build a clocktower to perpetuate the memory of his mother Rajabai. The Rajabai Tower Library saw the light of day on 27th February 1880 when it was formally opened to readers. The Library made a humble beginning with government books of the East India Company; Dr. John Wilson's collection (purchased in 1876 by the University from Dr. Wilson's heirs) of books on Orientalia Travel & Theology.

Due to shortage of space another Campus of the University was set up at Vidyanagari in 1968 and a unit of the University Library was constructed in July 1971 therein. The new Library building named Jawaharlal Nehru Library, was constructed and was inaugurated on 18th October, 1976 and expanded in phases. Now it functions in a full fledged manner and caters to the library needs of students, scholars, faculty of all the departments situated on Campus. Today it has a stock of nearly 8 lakhs seventy thousand books, periodicals and other material. 


The University Library and Rajabai Clock Tower above it, is unique among the building which enhance the beauty of the first city in India. Rising to a height of 280 feet it catches the eyes of visitors as one of the most attractive architectural features of Mumbai. The ground floor has 2 side rooms, each measuring 56 feet x 27.5 feet and a staircase vestibule 28 feet square. The Rajabai Tower forms a carriage porch 26 square feet in front of the building. The Tower, over the carriage porch, has a square form up to the gallery at the top of the first stage which is at a height of 68 feet from the ground The form changes from a square to an octagon and the height from this gallery to the top of the tower is 118 feet and the third stage to the top of the final is 94 feet, thus making a total height of 280 feet.

Above the first gallery in niches cut in the pillars at the corners of the octagon are carved stone figures representing different races and costumes of Western India and higher still are figures representing the communities of Bombay State including the Parsi, Memon, Gujarati, Maratha and Kathiawari communities. It is said that during the construction of the building which took nearly 10 years, not a single accident occurred despite the hazardous heights.

Jawaharlal Nehru Library (JNL) at Vidyanagari is built on modern architectural principles of modular construction The collection here is divided into social sciences; pure and applied sciences and humanities. Separate stacking and reading rooms for these collections facilitate easy access.

The access to the Rajabai Tower Library collection is via catalogues except for researchers and teachers who are extended browsing facility, whereas JNL offers open access i.e. browsing in the stacks for all the readers alike. Fort Library extends membership to undergraduate students as well.



: 6,99,321

Theses & dessertation

: 20,000 


: 12,000


: 15,000


: 2,000


Over the years the Library has acquired many prominent special collections e.g.

1.Diaries, Personal Records of old Bombay families - Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy the   first Baronet ranging from 1826-1876 and Serene Maneckjee Cursetjee (1857-1939).

2.Newspaper clippings mostly in Marathi from Ashana Irabatti collection.

3.Newspaper clippings, from Baburao Patel Collection - 750 files on social and political conditions in the 1950's and 1960's.

 4.Lokhitawadi Collection - 12,000 books and back volumes of journals in Marathi,  English, Hindi.

5. Art collections: Books on art Presented by Ms.P.F. Pavari.

6 . Letters - 342 letters of lokhitawadi presented by Dr. Indumati Parikh.

7. Manuscripts- 7500 Sanskrit manuscripts, 1376 Persian, Urdu and Arabic manuscripts  (Fyzee,Khatkhate, Hamadani Collections).


People have donated their entire collections to the University.

1. A.K. Priolkar Collection : Sanskrit, Marathi, English and Portuguese books.
2. Patkar Collection - Law books.
3. M.M.P.Y.Kane Collection - Books on Law, Sanskrit. 
4. Dr. B. Ambedkar Collection - Books, Newspapers, letters. 
5. Collection of material on Mumbai (Bombay)-Special collection of rare books on the city.


Reading: The Library extends reading facilities to all postgraduate students of the University whether registered in the University itself or through colleges. Faculty members, researchers also get borrowing facilities. Membership is extended to PhD. students and teachers of other Universities, if they so desire. Writers, journalists' and visitors are also given membership under the General Reader category. Besides this, the library extends visitors cards to visitors for 3 days extended up to 6 days, if they so desire.

Bibliographic services provided by the library include monthly list of new additions to the library, books on Inter-Library Loan, contents pages service (of periodicals), monthly update on Human Rights, photocopying service, reference service, referral service (directing users to sources outside the library), CD-ROM search and Internet Search services



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