Public Library Department

Chief Librarian
Mrs. Waruni Gagabadaarachchi

(B.Sc), (Agric), M.L.S.

  • 011-2691968
  • 011-2691968
  • 0777-514629


The Colombo Public library is established in July 1925, by the amalgamation of the Colombo library & the Pettah library. At the beginning the library had 3 departments, The Reading Room, the Lending Room & the Reference Library. It had seven members on the staff, with late Mr. S.C Blok as the Librarian.

By now, the library has a collection of nearly one million books, 57 newspapers & 111 periodical titles in all 3 languages, Sinhala, Tamil & English.

It expands its services to 13 branches, Mobile Service & Book Box Projects to under privileged children in shanties. Now it has 5 departments, 7 service providing points and 105 staff members.

Applying for Membership

Mainly library is catered to the general public of the Colombo Municipal area. At the same time, there are provisions to join the library, persons who studying or working in the city limits.

In addition one could be a member after deposit Rs. 2000/= as a security fee instead of a guarantor attestation.

Even a foreigner could use the library, after paying Rs. 5000/= as the security fee.

Membership, charge and application procedure

Within city limits Rs. 100.00 + NBT (Nation Building Tax)
Non residents who employed or studying in the city Rs. 200.00 + NBT
Non residents, neither employed nor attending studies in the city Rs. 500.00 + NBT
Without guarantor attestationRs. 2000.00 + NBT
For a foreigner Rs. 5000.00 + NBT

Applicant should fill the application form obtained from the library or downloaded from the web page.

There is a separate application for children's membership.

A guarantor who lives in the city limit should be attested in the application form (Attestation form will be sent to the guarantor by post by the library)

After getting the attestation, from the guarantor applicant will be informed by sending a post card.

As soon as informed, applicant would get two library tickets to borrow books.


Library Services

Colombo public library provides number of extension services other than the general library services.

It Provides,

  • Lending services
  • Internet & career guidance services
  • Facilitates for reading newspapers & periodicals
  • Reference services
  • Mobile library service - Library service to office complexes housing complexes
  • Book box project - Library service to under privileged children

Lending library

The lending library has a wide selection of books on practically every subject. Books are shelved according to Dewey decimal classification system. Sinhalese, English & Tamil books keep separately. There is a key to refer Dewey decimal system. There are almost 200,000 readers registered in the lending library out of that around 400-500 patrons visit the library every day.

Reference Library

This is open to everybody from 8.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m and has a good coverage of different subjects. Books are kept according to Dewey decimal classification system and books of 3 languages (Sinhala, Tamil & English) housed separately.

The reference library consists of general reference books. Generally 25- 50 patrons use the reference library and have seating accommodation for 124 patrons.

Children's Library

Books are available in all three languages & there is a reference center. There are some programmes in order to encourage the children to make better use of the library and to draw out their potential & talents. Photographic, Class Art, Literary Competition & Children's Club are some of them.

Reading Room

This section has 72 seats provide for wide range of newspapers and periodicals in Sinhala, Tamil & English. We subscribe 57 newspapers, and 150 200 patrons use the library daily.

Study Hall

A separate building with 570 seats was opened to the public in 2000 to enable patrons to use.

Mobile Library Service

A mobile library service to cover areas that do not have library facilities has been introduced in 1975. This service provides library facilities for government departments, housing complexes, Sunday schools and prison at their door step. There are 42 services points within the city at which mobile service operates. There is a fairly large amount of leadership for the mobile library service.

Book Box Project

Public library has been taken steps to improve the reading habits of children who live in shanties in the city limits. Children live in these under service areas have less attention to education as well as for reading. Hence a service for these children in 50 centers withing Slum & Shanty areas was inaugurated with the assistance of UNICEF. This provides books to children up to the age of 15 years. The book box project services provide to each point once in a two weeks time and children in these areas gather to previously decided place in the particular day. Mobile librarian provides services to these children. A child could borrow two books after getting the membership at the same time.

Branch Libraries

The branch libraries are scattered throughout Colombo and the library now provides facilities to all residents within the city has aided in promoting the reading habit & the dissemination of information.

At present there are 11 branches through out the city. Most of branches are housed at first floor level in community center buildings and in close proximity to the Municipal Housing Schemes. Opening hours are vary according to the local needs.

Following are the branch libraries,

  • Kirulapone branch library,

    High level road, Kirulapone, Colombo 06.

  • Mihindu Mawatha branch library,

    Mihindu Mawatha, Colombo 12.

  • Elliot Place branch library,

    Elliot Place, Colombo 12.

  • Kettarama branch library,

    Kettarama Mawatha, Colombo 14.

  • Mattakkuliya branch library,

    Central Road, Colombo 15.

  • Gunasinghe Park Reading Room,

    Gunasinghe Park, Colombo 11.

  • Kotahena branch library,

    Kotahena, Colombo 13.

  • Sri Sucharitha branch library,

    Sucharitha Mawatha, Colombo 12.

  • Peterson Lane branch library,

    Peterson lane, Colombo 06.

  • Belmont Street branch library,

    Belmont Street, Colombo 12.

  • Henry Pediris Children's library,

    Pediris Park, Colombo 05.

Under Repairs

  • Bonavista branch library

    Bonavista Park, Colombo 15

  • Eli House Park library