National Museum of Colombo - Library Holdings

Library Holdings

Special Collections
  1. Private Collection of H. C. P. Bell
  2. Private Collection of Mr. Huga Nevil
  3. Private collection of Palm leaf manuscripts of Mr. W. A. De Silva
  4. Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranike donated Mr. Henry Blake’s collection of Palm leaf manuscripts
  5. Ven. Kalukodayawa Pannasekera Maha Thero’s collection of sinhala Periodicals & Newspapers.

Those collections indeed portray the development of the library holdings and in 1885 the law requires that a copy of every document printed in the country has to be deposited in the museum library. At present the library accommodates over 12 million titles including a large number of rare books, periodicals and palm leaf manuscripts.

The collection reflects the subject areas of interests and ongoing activities of the museum. The scope of the museum library is as follows;

  • Arts and humanities: Archaeology, Ethnology, Anthropology, Oriental Languages and literature.
  • Natural Sciences: Zoology, Entomology, Geology and Botany
  • This huge collection of the library could be separated into various groups according to the document types.
  1. Palm leaf collection which are written in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, Burmese, Telugu and Tamil characters among the subjects covered are Buddhism, Sinhala literature, History, Indigenous, Medicine, Astrology, Demonology, veterinary Science, Art, Architecture and Folklore.
  2. Printed books and pamphlets. This collection comprises the entire range of documents from the first work printed in 1737 to the latest book.
  3. Periodical collection such as Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (CB), Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register, Young Ceylon etc.…The collection was built up to a great extent by exchanges received from the institutions in all parts of the globe. Foreign periodical collection contains important titles such as discovery reports, Ray Society publications,
  4. Government Publications- such as Blue books from 1864–1938, Administration Reports from 1867 to date, Sessional papers from 1860 to date Hansards from 1863–1962, etc.
  5. Directories, statistical year books, trade catalogues, etc.
  6. Law reports.
  7. Maps and drawings.
  8. Stamps and postcards.

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