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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."
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
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
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
The annual grant to the library was renewed but the amount
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
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
The second collection of the Arabic, Persian and Urdu
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
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.
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.
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.
the years the Library has acquired many prominent special
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
3.Newspaper clippings, from Baburao Patel Collection - 750
files on social and political conditions in the 1950's and
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.
6 . Letters - 342 letters of lokhitawadi presented by Dr.
7. Manuscripts- 7500 Sanskrit manuscripts, 1376 Persian,
Urdu and Arabic manuscripts (Fyzee,Khatkhate, Hamadani
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