The Saraswathi Mahal Library of Thanjavur is one of the oldest of its kind in Asia and boasts of an exceptional collection of manuscripts on palm leaf and paper books written in a multitude of languages including Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Marathi and English.
The Saraswathi Mahal Library was started as the Royal Library of the Nayak Kings who ruled from 1535-1675 AD. The Maratha Kings soon gained control of Thanjavur and under Serfoji-II (1798-1832), the library flourished. Since 1918, the library has been under the control of the state of Tamil Nadu.
The library is open to the public and computerization of library activities was started in 1998. Rare work such as the Madras Almanac printed in 1807, and the pictorial Bible printed in Amsterdam in 1791 are housed in the library.
A museum is also located in the library building in order to spread awareness regarding the importance of the library to the masses.