On the significance of public libraries

In the past year, library advocacy has been pushed to the forefront of the public’s mind. I hope that the WI’s recent announcement of support will increase the presence of library campaigns around the country.

This post, though, is just a short one to remind us that public libraries have always been wanted for various reasons. Now we often promote libraries as community centres of information, but there was a time when they imagined as making scholarship available to the public. Today I came across an excerpt from an 1833 letter by Henry Fox Talbot to William Jackson Hooker, then director of Kew:

“In my opinion public libraries ought to be established in all our principal Towns at the national expense. A considerable sum should be voted annually for the encouragement of science, which should be in part expended in patronizing literary undertakings of merit. From 20 to 50 copies of sucsh works should be purchased by government & distributed to these provincial libraries, which small at first, would soon become important.”

(Quote referenced in Beauty of Another Order)


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