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An introduction

Munshi House
before restoration

Survey & documentation
of the existing building


Building Materials

The team on site
in August 2007

The Library and reading










    The Library and Reading Room    

LAMO is in the process of setting up a library and reading room at its Centre. The library will make accessible archival and contemporary written and visual material on art and media practices in and outside Ladakh. The Library is expected to open by the end of 2011.

The library and reading room are located in the north side in the Munshi wing part of the LAMO Centre. Both the rooms adopt the form and detail of the surrounding traditional vernacular Ladakhi buildings. They have been built by local carpenters and masons using traditional skills and techniques that are still available in Ladakh. 

The library is a two-storey structure and has been built using parts of the surviving original stone walls dating from the 17th century when Leh town was founded; below the library are cellars, which were used as stables by the Munshi family. The plan for the library was developed from the cellar layout below. New stone walls were built up to the first floor utilising the stone from the ruins on site. Sun-dried earth bricks were made on site and used to complete the upper portions of the walls. The two floors are connected by a wooden staircase at the back of the room. Within the walls a timber structure of six pillars, main beams and joists supports the upper floor and the flat roof. One central bay in the upper floor is left open and the roof above raised as a lantern, so that light can fall into the lower floor. On the south side, overlooking the courtyard, large windows and a traditional balcony (rabsal) allow winter sun to enter the building. On the east side window alcoves in the thick masonry walls provide seating for readers.

The Reading Room is located adjacent to the Library and is the recreation of a summer room (probably a shelkhang, glass room, as it appears to have had big windows) built on the roof of the Munshi House in the mid-nineteenth century and demolished when the family left the house in 1980. A stone wall remained to waist height at one side, and traces of plaster decoration on another. In the rebuilding a new window was introduced at the east side, and a complete wall of windows on the south, opening onto the roof terrace, and double-glazed for solar gain in winter.

The Library and Reading Room were restored and built during the construction of the LAMO Centre. In April 2010 LAMO received a two year grant from the Kalpataru Trust, Mumbai, to augment its library. This allowed LAMO to:

  1. Build infrastructure such as book shelves, desks, chairs and stools. 
  2. Identify and train a candidate for the post of librarian.
  3. Build up a collection of archival and contemporary written and visual material on art and media practices in and outside Ladakh.
  4. Develop an Educational Outreach Program.





Copyright LAMO 2010

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