Pages From History in Downtown Bangkok
The Neilson Hays Library has housed
a treasure trove of literary works since
inception in 1869. Home to more than
20,000 books, the library is rightly
ranked as a Bangkok institution. While
Surawongse Road bustles outside, the
building proves deceptively tranquil,
sitting amidst beautiful gardens that
provide leafy awnings under which
to peruse the latest titles.
Words and pictures by Paul Hutton, Bangkok Scene.
Although the library has functioned for the last 142 years,
it has only been housed in its current location since the
completion of the building in 1921. Among the English
language books that are available for loan you can find
the latest fiction, non-fiction and children's books. Regular
events and craft days are held, and month long exhibitions
feature at the library's two well known galleries: the
Rotunda Gallery and the Garden Cafe and Gallery.
The latter also provides a range of reviving coffees and a menu from the neighbouring British Club, which operates the food and beverage operation.
A dynamic children's section holds a storytelling session every Saturday morning and other programmes are specifically designed to keep the library's younger members amused.
Although a visit to the Neilson Hays Library is a journey back to a bygone age, the establishment is firmly rooted in the present. A leisurely meander through the aisles reveals up to the minute magazines and titles by the most sought after authors.
The library can be found at 195 Surawongse Road, and is open between 9.30am and 5pm every Tuesday to Sunday. Bookings for private events are welcome.