There is something about the touch of soft fabricated paper and the sound of pages flickering against the finger, that lures us back to the “old-school” hard copy books lying on wooden bookshelves.   

Bangkok’s little paradise for book lovers and a proud-standing historic landmark, Neilson Hays Library is a much-loved institution which has been fostering the art of literature for decadesHoused in a white, elegant neo-classical building in Silomthe establishment owns the largest English-language book selection in Bangkok — with over 20,000 books and counting. From an impressive range of contemporary fiction and non-fiction, to limited-edition books, magazines, and newspapers, Neilson Hays Library has a little something for everyone. But you already knew that.

Founded in 1869, this year marks the library’s 150th anniversary as one of the leading cultural centres in our community, and the oldest not-for-profit organisation in Thailand. To commemorate the occasion, we’ve put together five facts you may not have known about Neilson Hays Library. Scroll ahead and be surprised.

 

All images credit: Neilson Hays Library

The library has its very own literature festival

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On September 11, 2019, the library hosted a press conference for the Nielson Hays Bangkok Literature Festival.

Fancy poetry readings and creative art workshops? Given that the library often likes to hold literary programs and workshops, to commemorate the 150th anniversary this year, there couldn’t be anything more exciting than the Neilson Hays Library’s very own literature festival. For the time ever, in collaboration with the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), the institution is bringing an exclusive group of over 25 distinguished Thai and international writers from all around the world for panel discussions on various topics, insightful talks, poetry readings, film screenings, and art and crafts workshops. The Neilson Hays Bangkok Literature Festival aims to be an opportunity to showcase Thai literature and creative arts for the international audience, and will take place from 16-17 November 2019 at the library, the British Club of Thailand, and at Chulalongkorn University. Go ahead, mark your calendars now. 

They also hold musical concerts 

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One of the most unique things about Neilson Hays Library is that it never fail to inspire us with its appreciation for art – whether it’s literature or music. Once again, the library will be enthralling us with a classical music performance by Thailand’s brightest young opera singers from Mahidol University to present the “Enchanted Classical Vocal Concert II” on 22 September from 6-8pm. Expect to hear popular arias from operas including Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Keep an eye on their calendar as there are actually several classical concerts held throughout the year at the library.  

You can get married on the premises

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Wedding bells ringing soon? It would be a sweet, wild fantasy for bibliophiles to get married at a gorgeous library. That’s right, beyond reading, concerts, and workshops, Neilson Hays Library is also a premier wedding venue for romantics. Consider it the most beautifully historic setting for your wedding story, as you say your vows with a backdrop of colourful rows of books and green lush spaces at the library’s garden courtyard. Magical.

You could become the next J.K. Rowling at one of their workshops

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When creation meets creativity, we’re in for an innovative rollercoaster ride on the writing journey. Neilson Hays Library regularly hosts a creative writing workshop for both experienced and amateur writers to develop the skill. Whilst for some it may be a chance to dedicate some time into focusing and enhancing their writing, for others, it could be a learning experience to acquire techniques that will help bring their imagination to life. If you’ve got the urge to scribble something down or get started on that big novel, this month the workshop will be on 21 September and 28 September from 2pm-3.30pm.

Whisky? At the library? Groundbreaking

Image Credit: The Glenfiddich Experience

Wine and dine at the library? Sure. Whether it’s a product launch or a family celebration, Neilson Hays Library often plays host to an array of fun (and sometimes totally unexpected events). Who knew you could throw a lavish party in a library? We recall one with a Glenfiddich whisky pairing dinner. Known as the distiller of one of the world’s best-selling single malt whiskies, it’s no real surprise that the library’s rich heritage made the perfect venue to celebrate their traditional Glenfiddich Speyside distillery experience. A memorable multi-sensory journey for those who stepped into the library that night, like you’ve probably never seen before. 

The Neilson Hays Library is open from Tuesday to Sunday 9.30am – 5.30pm. For more information, visit neilsonhayslibrary.com

Alisha Pawa
Writer
Alisha is a passionate dancer and is always creating her own choreographies. She is a fan of rom-com novels, a coffee-drinker who loves tea, and is always on-the-go for her midnight chocolate cravings. She hopes to tick-off her never-ending bucket list one day by hosting her own travel show.