Old Town Bangkok: Neilson Hays Library

I like libraries.  Ever since I was young, it would be somewhere we went to each weekend, and thus started my love of books.  At home we have so many books, we could start our own library.  However, nowadays I seem to read a lot fewer books compared to my younger days.  My reading is usually done on the internet or on my iPhone.  I should really go back to books… Anyways, if you read a lot of books and don’t want to have to buy them all, in Bangkok we have the Neilson Hays Library which has been around since 1869. Wow. 142 years.

142 years is a long time to have a building still standing in Bangkok.  As most of our houses were built of wood, many buildings have been lost to fire and flooding.  Neilson Hays Library, built of brick, still remains.

I’ve driven past this library on Surawong road more times than I can remember, and every time I tell myself I have to go in and check it out.  I finally did.  Now I can cross it off my “To do” list.  I don’t like having it stuck at the back of my mind.

Upon entering the compound, I was struck first by how large it was.  I didn’t expect it to have a parking lot, yet it did and one that could easily fit a couple of cars.   There was a nice open square and a relatively new coffee shop lining one side of the square.  Here’s another coffee/tea place you can go find some peace in busy Bangkok.  There were a few people there, but most of the clientele were expatriates.  Interesting. I suppose they come from the British club next door.  Food at the cafe is supposed to be from the Club.

I walk into the library and am brought back in time.   It reminds me of libraries I’ve seen in England yet it has ceiling fans.  This could easily be a scene you see in colonial movies.  This was western architecture adapted to life in hot and humid Asia.  Of course now the building is airconditioned and the ceiling fans are just relics of the past.

Wooden shelves line the aisles and books are neatly stored behind glass.  There is a lot of dust in Bangkok.  There are wooden tables and chairs for you to sit and read and there are quiet corners where you can spend the day reading away.

I walk further to the back of the library and instantly fall in love with the Children’s corner.  This is the most active part of the library with coloured decorations and soft seatings for children.   There are a few families there with parents reading to their children.  Some are lying down with the child in their arms and a book wide open.  It’s a scene of love and memories. 

I am told that they have “story telling” time.  I want to do that sometimes.  It looks like fun…  If you get bored, there is a little rotunda where artwork is put on display.  I love it.  I could spend an entire day here having some “me” time.

I make my way back to the entrance and ask for details.  You can spend the entire day there for 50thb ($1.6) which is a great deal if you just want to read and be somewhere quiet.  Air-condition included.   If you want to borrow books, you can also apply for membership which entitles you to several books and paperbacks.    I think I found the place to donate my books.  Here they will be loved and read.

Here’s their website 🙂 http://www.neilsonhayslibrary.com/

2 thoughts on “Old Town Bangkok: Neilson Hays Library

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