Bibliotheque Publique, commonly known as the Romain Rolland Library, is one of the oldest Libraries in the country. Located in the Goubert Avenue, White Town, it is only 3 kilometres from the main city of Pondicherry. The library was opened by Desbassyns de Richmond in 1827 and on August 27, 1967, the library was renamed as the Romain Rolland Library after the birth centenary of the Great French Scholar Romain Rolland - a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi.
The historic Romain Rolland library, has a rich assemblage of more than 3,00,000 volumes of books both in French and in English. Presently more than 45,000 adult members are utilizing the Library and as many as 2,00,000 books are annually loaned to the readers. Romain Rolland Library has a children's section which aims at inculcating the reading habit in youth. The library can boast of an eccentric and varied collection, ranging from academic books, books on history for the students to picture books for the tiny toddlers. The most interesting feature about this library is it's The Rare Book section which contains up to 15,000 old, historic and exquisite books. Scholars from all over the world fly to Pondicherry to use these for their research or to simply to gaze at the spectacle of knowledge. Micro-filming had been initiated to preserve the books as they are too delicate and brittle to handle.
Romain Rolland Library has also started a mobile library service which takes more than 8,000 books to the nearby villages by bus. There is an air conditioned reading room and an ordinary room where newspapers and magazines can be read. The reference section on the second floor is open to the general public.
An average person usually spends about 30 minutes to an hour in the library. Visitors can visit the Romain Rolland Library during timings 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM and 4:00PM - 7:00PM. The children's section is open between 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM on weekdays and between 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM on weekends and holidays. There is no entry fee and annual membership is fee is Rs. 5 only.