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Neilson Hays Library houses Bangkok’s premier collection of English language books. In 1869 the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association was first founded. At this time, life for Western residents was harsh and luxuries such as books were treasured items. A group of 13 British and American women established the association, with the aim of circulating and sharing books. Initially staffed by volunteers and only open one day a week, by 1897 it was open every day (except Sunday) and a paid librarian was employed. Originally housed rent-free in various personal homes (and later in a chapel); by 1914 it was clear that a dedicated building was required and a plot of land on Surawong Road was purchased. Around this time, one of the most active Board members was Jennie Neilson Hays. Sadly Jennie passed away suddenly in 1920, possibly as a result of cholera. Her husband, Dr Hays chose to honour his wife by commissioning a new library to be built in her memory, using the plot of land purchased. The result is the elegant neo-classical building; sadly never seen by her, but so appreciated today. It was opened on 26 June 1922. The library thrived in its new and permanent home for many years, until a setback in 1941 when the Japanese forces used it for billeting troops. More than 1,000 rare volumes were shipped to Japan during this time, along with precious architectural blueprints. Many books were subsequently returned; but some of the rarest books and blueprints are still missing. The library is especially accommodating of children and families, running weekly storytelling programs, family events, schools visits and annual readathons, many of which are free for members. Every Saturday at 10.30am they offer story telling in English, followed by a craft activity. Hosted by enthusiastic volunteers and suitable for 3 to 7 year old children. Older brothers and sisters may browse the books independently and teenagers may like to volunteer to be the storyteller.

Days Of Operations

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday


9:30 AM – 5:00 PM


9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM

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