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Adyar Library and Research Centre


The Adyar Library and Research Centre (ALRC)


The Adyar Library and Research Centre (ALRC) was founded in 1886 by Colonel Olcott with a small but valuable collection of the Founders' books. Originally situated in the Headquarters building, it was shifted in 1968 to a more spacious one, better suited to its growing needs. It has always been one of the important aspects of the work at Adyar, both for members and for the public; moreover, today it is one of the well known oriental libraries in the world, dedicated to research and publication in the field of eastern civilization, philosophy and religion.  It contains over 250,000 printed volumes and around 20,000 palm-leaf manuscripts from India, Sri Lanka, China, and other places, a few of which are kept on display for visitors.  The printed books include rare indological publications in several languages and a fine collection of works on different religions, philosophies and cultures.

The Chinese Tripitakas, the Tibetan Kanjur and Tanjur, a collection of rare works in Latin and other western languages, and a complete set of important research journals are among the priceless possessions of the Library.  It also currently receives nearly 225 journals from several countries.

Several rare and previously unpublished works in the manuscript collection have been edited and brought out in print; a staff of pundits and scholars is continually engaged in this task.  The Library has had a series of distinguished scholars as its Director and was recognized as a Research Centre for a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indology by the University of Madras.


Adyar Library Endowment Fund

The Library has achieved much during its hundred and more years of existence but there is still much to be done.  Shortage of funds makes it difficult to engage suitable scholars and add to its collections.  Therefore, an Adyar Library Endowment Fund was created in 1986, in the hope that members of the Society as well as others interested in this work would support it.

Its aim is to promote understanding among men and nations through knowledge of the higher aspects of their respective cultures. 


Working Hours and Holidays

  • The Library is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., with the exception of Sundays and recognized holidays.
  • Books will be issued only up to 4.30 p.m.
  • The Library is open only to Registered Readers.
  • It is not open to casual visitors or to children under 10 years of age.  
  • Individuals and parties wishing to visit the Library should obtain the Librarian’s permission. 

Manuscript Collection

  • Transcripts (TR) : Total 1304 'books', each with one or more 'pages'. 
  • Paper Manuscript (PM) : Total 3136 'books', each with one or more 'pages'
  • Palm Leaves Manuscript (PL) : total 2586 'books' , each with one or more 'pages'
  • ViswaBharati Manuscripts (VB) : Total 2730 'books', each with one or more 'pages' . These are mostly Palm Leaves.
  • Digitization of the books and manuscripts started in 2016 and is ongoing. Digitized manuscripts are meant only for use by research scholars who come to the Adyar Library in person, identify themselves and their purpose.


Adyar Library Publications

The Adyar Library publishes the Adyar Library Series, as well as its General and Pamphlet Series.
The Library also publishes a scholarly journal called Brahmavidya, which presents studies on religion, philosophy, culture, and various aspects of indology: this journal is widely circulated amongst scholars throughout the world.
Its other Publications include: Veda and Vedanta, Upanishads, Dharma Sastra, Artha Sastra, Astrology, Grammar, Mimamsa, Music, Lexicography, Poetics and Dramaturgy.

  • The Library extends its services to research institutions, universities and scholars in India and abroad, and supplies microfilm and photostat copies on request.
  • Its manuscripts have been used in several important publications of other institutions of learning.  
  • Old and rare books, art books, reference books, dictionaries, periodicals, maps, etc. will not be lent and shall be consulted only in the Library.
  • Manuscripts and books of great value and rarity may be consulted only in the presence of the Librarian or one of his assistants.
  • Manuscripts will not be lent and shall be consulted only in the Library. 
  • Readers must pay a fee of Rs 50/- and a refundable deposit of Rs 250/-, on payment of which they will be provided with an admission card valid for the current year.  
  • Reader-cards are not transferable and must be produced when required by the Library staff for checking.
  • Readers who are residents of Chennai city and who wish to borrow books must register themselves as Borrowers and pay a Borrower’s fee of Rs 100/- per year as well as a refundable deposit of Rs 800/-. 


Library Contact

The Librarian
The Adyar Library and Research Centre,
The Theosophical Society,
Adyar, Chennai 600 020
Telephone: 044-24913528
E-mail :

Note: A number of publications of the Adyar Library and Research Centre are available for purchase through the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Bookshop