National Libraries Day

Reblogging IronRoom blog post on history of libraries in Birmingham to celebrate National Libraries Day – hopefully libraries in Birmingham & across the country (& world) still have a future.

The Iron Room

It’s National Libraries Day on Saturday the 6th February, so here at the Library of Birmingham we’re celebrating with a blog about the history of library services in Birmingham.

View towards Archives & Collections, level 4, at the Library of Birmingham View towards Archives & Collections, level 4, at the Library of Birmingham

Private Libraries

Prior to the involvement of the Town Council in 1860, libraries in Birmingham were in private hands, though some did provide public access, albeit at a cost or through subscription. For instance, a free library was established in 1733 through the will of a Reverend Higgs, though it catered only for Anglican clergy and other privileged people. Books were also ‘hired out’ by one Thomas Warren in 1729. A subscription library was certainly in existence by 1751, run by William Hutton, a bookseller and historian based in Bull Street. A number of others followed, with that of John Lowe charging an annual subscription of between 12s and…

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