Significance and Turbulent History
The Jaffna Public Library, located about 2km from Jaffna town, is one of the city’s major attractions. Built in 1933, the library was once one of the largest in Asia, having contained over 97,000 books and manuscripts back in the early 80s.
During the civil conflict that was on at the time, the library was burned down in 1981, and much of the precious constituents of the library were lost to the fire. In 2001, the library was renovated extensively, with a new complex being built and thousands of new books being brought in. Unfortunately, the old books and manuscripts were not replaced.
The Library Today
Presently, the library is still an architecturally significant structure, surrounded by gardens, with its grand symmetrical facade echoing memories of days gone by. All visitors are required to remove their footwear prior to entering the building as a sign of respect.
In 2016, several modern facilities were added to the library, including free Wi-Fi, to make it conducive to the needs of the younger generation. Even though much of its irreplaceable texts by countless renowned scholars and authors are no longer held within its walls, the Moghul-esque building beckons to visitors from all around the country. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., so if you would like to do some reading in peace, we highly recommend you pay a visit to the Jaffna Library, where plenty of local books are available for you if you would like to do some research on Sri Lanka, its folklore, culture, food, and more.