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A History and Description,
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Contents and Use . .






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Printed for the Public Free Libraries Committee by Thos. Sowler & Sons Limited




Prefatory Note xiii

Committee AND Officers xv

History of the Manchester Public Library Movement -

First Efforts i

Speech by Joseph Brotherton, M.P 3

Letter from the Prince Consort 5

Speech by Sir John Potter 6

Speeches by Thackeray 8, 25

Speech by Dickens 10

Speech by Lord Ly tton 12

Speech by R. M. Milnes 15

Report of the Working Mens' Committee 17

Speech by John Bright 21

Inaugural Epic 27

Free Libraries and Education 30

Lectures 32

The Campfield Building 35

Beginning of the Branches 37

Death of Sir John Potter 4°

Edward Edwards, First Librarian 41

R. W. Smiles, Second Librarian 48

The Rochdale Road Branch 49

Speeches by Harry Rawson 50, 172, 193

Speech by I vie Mackie 53

Speech by Prof. J. G. Greenwood 53

Donations and Gifts 5^) 94

The Reference Library Catalogue 58

The Hulme Branch 59

Speeches by Thomas Baker 60, 76, loi, 106, 129, 161

Speech by the Rev. F. C. Woodhouse 64

Speech by the Rev. Canon Toole 69

Speech by the Rev. Geo. Bowden 7°

The Chorltoh and Ardwick Branch 75

Speech by the Earl of Shaftesbury 80

Speech by Edward James, Q. C 83

Speech by Dudley Field 85

Speech by the Rev. Alex. Thomson 86

Speech by H. Austin Bruce, M.P 89



The Ancoats Branch 94

The Brotherton Memorial Fund 95

Expenditure ti) 1869 96

Increasing the Income 97

Number of Volumes and Issues, 1852-70 99

Effect of Condition of the Labour Market 100

The Cheetham Branch loi

Speeches by James Croston 105, 112, 134

The Reference Library 116

Speeches by Chancellor R. C. Christie 119

Speeches by James Crossley 120, 131

Speech by Abel Hey wood 122

Speech by Dr. John Watts 123

The Deansgate Branch 127

Sunday Opening 1 36

Boys' Rooms 137, 280

English Dialect and other Societies 139

The Bailey Shorthand Collection 141

The Hazlitt Collection 144

The Gipsy Collection 146

Andrea Crestadoro, Third Librarian 149

Reading Rooms 151

Sir Thomas Baker, Kt 152

Employment of Women as Assistants 155

Asking for Grant of Parliamentary Papers 156

Greater Manchester 164

Number of Volumes and Issues, 1870-87 165

The Newton Heath Branch 166

Speeches by James W. Southern 169, 181, 190, 192, 198, 210

Speech by John Mark 171

Speech by George Milner 173

The Rusholme Branch 175

Address by Sir Henry Roscoe 1 78

The Longsight Branch 182

Address by Alexander Ireland 185

The Chester Road Reading Room 191

Speech by Alderman Marshall 193

The Gorton Branch 196

Address by Dr. A. W. Ward 199

The Openshaw Branch 204

Address by Chancellor R. C. Christie 205

Speech by J. H. Crosfield 212

The Moston Branch 214

Delivery Stations 215

Use of the Newsrooms 215


Summary of Statistics 21S

Spontaneous Growth 219

What the Estabhshment of Libraries may mean 219

The Economic Lesson of Public Libraries 221

The Cost 221

Income Tax 222

Rules, Regulations, and Bye-laws 228

Directions to Readers and Borrowers 233

The Reference Library: Guide to its Contents and Use ... 237

Specifications and Patents 237

Directories 239

Newspaper Files 241

Parliamentary Papers 242

Reviews, Magazines, and Newspapers 242

The Owen Manuscripts 247

The Hibbert-Ware Manuscripts 249

Other Manuscripts 252

Early Printed Books 255

Rare or Curious Books 256

Illustrated Books 261

How to obtain Books 266

Bibliographies 267

Growth of the Library in Books and their use 269

The Lending Libraries 270

Periodicals and Newspapers taken 271

The Reading Rooms 276

Bradford Reading Room 276

Harpurhey Reading Room 277

Hyde Road Reading Room 278

The Library Staff 281

Areas of the Libraries and Newsrooms 283



The Campneld Building. (The first home of the Manchester Public

Libraries) Frontispiece.

Rochdale Road Branch, Reading Room Page \%

Hulme Branch (2) 72

Chorlton and Ardvvick Branch (2) 88

Ancoats Branch (2) 9^

Cheatham Branch (2) 104

Reference Library (2) 120

Deansgale Branch (2) 128

Newton Heath Branch, Library 168

Rusholme Branch, Reading Room 176

Longsight Branch, Library 184

Chester Road Reading Room 192

Gorton Branch (2) 200

Harpurhey Reading Room 204

Openshaw Branch (2) 208

Moston Branch, Reading Room 216


This tvork is issued by authority and under the direction of
the Manchester Public Free Libraries Committee, in the belief
that it will be of service to many persons who, while accustomed
to use the Free Libraries, are yet unacquainted with the history
and full resources of those institutions ; and also in the hope
that many of those who have not yet availed themselves of the
great advantages which the Libraries offer to all thoughtful
people, ivill, by a perusal of its co7itents — should the volume
fall i}ito their hands — be induced to frequent them.

Another desire has been to provide answers, as far as
possible, to the numerous enquiries with regard to the establish-
ment and working of tJie Manchester Free Libraries which
are constantly being received from those interested in the
pro?notion of such institutions in the United Kingdom, or
abroad. Much of the information usually asked for will
therefore be found ivithin the following pages, yet I shall ever
deem it one of my most pleasing duties to answer any further
questio?is or to attempt the resolutiofi of afiy difficulties or
doubts which ?fiay occur to those interested or engaged in
advancing the ivell-being of public libraries.


Chief Librarian.

Committee, 1898*9.

Chairman— Alderman JAMES W. SOUTHERN.

Deputy-Chaikman— Councillor PLUMMER.

The lord MAYOR (Councillor W. H. VAUDREY).




Sir B. T. LEECH.


Councillor BRADDON, M.D











Deputy-Chief Librarian— WILLIAM ROBERT CREDLAND.

Superintendent OF Branches -LAWRENCE DILLON.
Assistant Librarian, Reference Library— ERNEST AXON.

ILtbradans of tbe :Krancb %ibxaxics.

Deansgate— EMILY TATTON.
Longsight— RUTH A. BENTLEY.
Newton Heath— JANE FINNEY.

OF The ^






BOUT fifty years ago there began in Man-
chester, and finally spread throughout the
country, a strong and enthusiastic agitation
for educational reform. The Lancashire
Public School Association, and soon afterwards the
National Public School Association, were formed, v/ith the
object of making elementary education secular and free.
Their members worked hard and earnestly, but, as is often
the case with any important political reform, the attainment
of the desired result was long delayed. At length, more
than twenty years after the beginning of the movement,
the main points of the Manchester scheme of education,
with the addition of compulsory attendance at school at
the option of the local authorities, were embodied in the
Elementary Education Bill of 1870, and became the law
of the land.


Simultaneously with this development of public
opinion in regard to education, and springing naturally
from it, there arose a desire for the establishment of
institutions calculated to have a more or less direct
educational influence, which should resemble the contem-
plated education in being free, and should help to carry to
a higher point and riper perfection the instruction gained
in the schools. Amongst the proposed institutions were
free Museums, Art Galleries, and Libraries. Taking
advantage of the public feeling, Mr. William Ewart intro-
duced into Parliament, in 1850, a "Bill for enabling Town
Councils to establish Public Libraries and Museums."
The Bill was not compulsory, and allowed the local
authorities to levy for the proposed purposes only a half-
penny in the pound on the annual value of the rateable
property in the district. Even of this sum nothing was
to be spent in the purchase of books. This most cautious
measure, with its singular restrictions, was passed into law
in August, 1850. Almost immediately, at the suggestion
of John Watts, Ph.D., the question of the establishment
of a Public Library in Manchester was discussed by a
number of influential men, one of the most active spirits
being Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Potter, who was then

He headed a subscription for the promotion of this
design and the sum of ^^"4,300 was secured before
any appeal was made to the public. The Hall of
Science, in Campfield, having been purchased for the
purpose of conversion into a library, a public meeting
was called therein on January 8th, 1851, with the
object of informing the ratepayers on the move-
ment and its progress, and of securing the establishment
of a Public Library and Museum. At this meeting
Mr. Potter, occupied the chair, and the late Dr. James


Prince Lee, Bishop of Manchester, Dr. G. H. Bowers,
Dean of Manchester, Rev. John Gooch Robberds, Mr.
Joseph Brotherton, M.P., Mr. (afterwards Sir) Thomas
Bazley, John Watts, and other gentlemen, spoke in
favour of the proposal, and a committee, with Dr. John
Watts and John Leigh, M.R.C.S., as secretaries, was
appointed to carry on the work.

In the course of his able and sympathetic speech
Mr. Joseph Brotherton said :

It was sometimes said that the people do not know
their best interests, and are apt to misunderstand their
duties ; but it might be said that if they sometimes
misunderstood them, they might not be acquainted with
them, and therefore it was most important that they
should be instructed. He thought, also, that the wealthy
required a better instruction as well as the masses of the
community. They required to be taught what the
people think, what is really their best interest, and he
was quite certain that the wealthy of this neighbourhood
had no stronger interest than in endeavouring to cultivate
the minds of the great masses of the people. The
great mass of the people were certainly endeavouring to
acquire power, and must, to a considerable extent,
influence public proceedings. It was, therefore, of the
greatest importance that public opinion should be
enlightened, where it had so much power in making
the laws ; and, therefore, on every ground it was the
interest of the community to encourage public libraries
and museums. Of what use was it that persons should
learn to read unless they have the opportunity of having
books which they may read ? We might complain of
the working classes being misled, but when they had the
opportunity of going to a well selected library, and
of obtaining all the information that is necessary for
their government, of course their minds would be
opened, they would see their real interest, and this
would tend to promote the general prosperity of the

The first efforts of the Committee were directed to
the adaptation of the building to the required purpose.


and to canvassing for further subscriptions. The sub-
scriptions eventually reached the large sum of ;^ 12,823,
of which about ;^8oo was raised by a working men's
committee, with Mr. W. J. Paul as secretary. Whilst these
efforts were in active progress the purchase of books was
entrusted to Mr. James Crossley, President of the Chetham
Society, and Mr. Edward Edwards, of the British
Museum, who had been selected to fill the post of chief
librarian. Books to the number of 18,000 were bought,
by an expenditure of ^^4,150, and about 3,300 volumes
were presented. Efforts were also made to obtain from
Government a grant of the books printed at the public
expense, and presumably, therefore, for the public
enlightenment ; but they met with imperfect success, and
though the requests have from time to time been repeated,
such a grant has never, save in a very partial manner, been

In selecting the works intended to form the reference
library two or three principal objects were kept in view.
One of these was the creation of a department of
Commerce, Trade, and Manufactures; and another that of
forming a collection of material relative to Local History,
and of books locally printed, or written by natives of the
city. The result was that when the library was opened
to the public the commercial collection numbered over
7,000 works, and the local one more than 500. These
efforts have never been relaxed, one valuable outcome
being that the library now possesses an unrivalled wealth
of local literature.

In July, 1852, the Mayor brought the question of the
adoption of the Libraries Act before the Town Council,
and having obtained its consent, the opinion of the rate-
payers was sought for by a poll. This was taken on the 20th
August, when the voting showed 3,962 for and 40 against


the adoption of the Act, out of a register of 12,500


Three days before the meetings held to celebrate the

opening of the library, Prince Albert sent a donation of

eighteen handsome volumes, with a letter addressed to the

Mayor, as follows : —

Osborne, August 25th, 1852.
My dear Sir,— As the time for the opening of the
Manchester Free Library is drawing near, I am com-
manded by His Royal Highness the Prince Albert to
repeat to you his regret at not having been able to accept
your invitation to be present at this interesting ceremony.
In order, however, not to let the day pass without some
testimony of the sincere interest which His Royal High-
ness feels in your undertaking, he has caused a collection
to be made of some works, which he trusts may prove of
interest and of use to those who may wish to study them ;
and His Royal Highness desires that they may be freely
accessible to persons of all classes without distinction.
His Royal Highness directs me to express his gratifi-
cation at seeing Manchester taking the lead, as in many
other valuable improvements, in giving practical appli-
cation to that recent but important act of the Legislature,
which has recognised, for the first time, the supply of
food for the mind as among those necessaries which in
this country are so amply and beneficially supplied to the
community by rates, in the different localities voluntarily
imposed upon the property. His Royal Highness hopes f
that the example thus nobly set by Manchester, and <
which His Royal Highness knows that you have per-
sonally so zealously promoted, will be extensively
followed throughout the country. The books will be
despatched by railway at the same time as this letter.
Believe me, my dear Sir, sincerely yours,

C. B. Phipps.


The inaugural meetings were held on September 2nd,

1852, in the Library Building, in Campfield. When Sir

John Potter took the chair at the morning ceremony it

was for him a proud moment He had worked hard and


earnestly in the promotion of the Institution, it had
become to him the profoundest interest of his public life,
and his labour had now reached a gratifying and noble
fruition. With him on the platform were Mr. Thos. Barnes
then Mayor of Manchester, Sir Edward L. Bulwer Lytton,
Mr. F. Ashton, Mayor of Salford, R. Monckton Milnes
(afterwards Lord Houghton), John Bright, M.P., Charles
Knight, the publisher, W.M.Thackeray, Peter Cunningham,
editor and historian, James Crossley, Frank Stone, artist,
W. H. Wills, dramatist, the Earls of Shaftesbury and
-^ Wilton, Charles Dickens, Sir James Stephen, Mr. (after-
wards Sir) William Brown, of Liverpool, as well as most
of the early promoters mentioned as taking part in the
preliminary meeting of January, 185 1.

After reading a report prepared by Mr. Edward
Edwards, detailing the history of the institution up to that
moment. Sir John Potter made a characteristic speech,
saying among other things :

I think we may congratulate the town of Manchester
on possessing an institution which promises to be one of
so much future usefulness. I am quite certain that we
may most sincerely and most warmly congratulate the
ladies and gentlemen who are present, and who are
inhabitants of Manchester, that this institution has been
deemed worthy of the support of the distinguished noble-
men and gentlemen whom I have the honour to find
around me on this occasion. The Committee of the
Free Library have undoubtedly had a good and generous
object in view in their labours. I can speak most
positively to the effect that no personal objects, and no
private motives have been attempted to be served in the
establishment of this institution. We have been animated
solely by the desire to benefit our poorer fellow-creatures.
We have felt that the poorer classes of Manchester have
shown themselves to be well worthy of any sacrifice
which may be made by their wealthier fellow-citizens for
their improvement, for their moral and intellectual
advancement. Many of us have lived long in Manchester


and have witnessed the conduct of the working classes
in times of difficulty and trial ; and also at the present
time of, I may say, universal prosperity and comfort. We
have seen the working-classes when their passions have
been inflamed, when they have been suffering from severe
and protracted distress. We have seen the patience with
which they have borne their sufferings, and the admirable
manner in which the great body of that class has support-
ed the authority of the law. We have found them on
all occasions, I believe, ready to aid authority,— I speak,
of course, of the great body of the working classes, — in
the maintenance of order and the public peace of the
town. . . . Recognising then, the good conduct of the
working classes, it is the duty of those who are more
favoured by fortune than they, to do everything in their
power to afford additional means of education and
advancement to those classes. We have seen an effort
made by the working classes themselves for the establish-
ment of such an institution. Those who will not help
themselves deserve not help from others ; and the
greatest confidence that we can have in the future
w. 11 -working of this institution is in the fact that
those for whose special benefit it was founded, have
shared in the expenses incurred by its establishment;
and, I believe most firmly, the Public Library of
Manchester will be valued the more, because ever}^ year
each ratepayer will be called upon to devote his mite,
though it be a very small mite indeed, for the maintenance
of that institution. Some people are inclined to maintain,
and I believe with considerable truth, that people do not
value things that are mere gifts to them. I think it
a great satisfaction to see that an effort of this kind,
made, certainly, in a large and important community,
should be recognised, valued, sanctioned, approved, and
promoted, by those who are eminent in the ranks of our
statesmen ; and by those who occupy so important a
position in England in reference to our literature, in
reference to science, and the arts. I think we have great
reason to be proud that Lord Shaftesbury, that Lord
Wilton, that the Lord Bishop of Manchester, who from
the first has done his utmost to promote our scheme,
that our friend Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, that Mr.
Charles Dickens, that Mr. Thackeray, that our friends of
the Guild of Literature and Art, that the members of


Parliament for various important localities, should have
^ thought it worth their while, by their presence to sanction
and approve of the opening of this institution. As an
individual, I am sure that I feel under the deepest
obligations to those noble lords and gentlemen, and I
am quite certain that I may take upon myself, speaking
for the community of Manchester (and I think I have
recently in connection with this institution been vested
with something like a right to speak for the community
of Manchester, when I said that I believed that the
popular voice was in favour of such an institution as this,
and the response to our appeal was, that not one in a
hundred could be found that had a word to say against
it, or that dared to say anything against it), to thank
these noble lords and gentlemen for their kindness on
this occasion.

In his Free Town Libraries^ Mr. Edward Edwards
says :

But the crowning honour was the presence of three
masters of Literature — Charles Dickens,W. M.Thackeray,
and Lord Lytton. Each of these eminent writers
expressed himself characteristically. Thackeray — who
could utter such brilliant and incisive sayings across
the social dinner-table — was never at his ease in speechi-
fying at a public meeting ; and on this occasion the
sight of 20,000 volumes seemed to appal him more than
that of the few hundreds of auditors. The surrounding
books appeared to excite such a crowd of thoughts in
his mind that their very number aiid hurry impeded
their outlet. Enough was heard to make one feel that
what he had to say was excellent, yet he could not say
it. He sat down in great emotion, and with an un-
finished sentence on his lips.

He seconded the resolution moved by Dickens given in
the report of his speech which follows, and this is all he said :

Sir John Potter, ladies, and gentlemen. The cause is so
good, and the advocate that you have heard upon it has
addressed you with an eloquence so noble and so heart-
stirring, that it is useless for me to do anything
more than to second him with all my heart, and to leave
the case in the hands of this great jury. Of course,
ladies and gentlemen, among the many sanitary and
social reforms which every man interested in the public


welfare is now anxious to push forward, the great
measure of books will not be neglected ; and we
look to this, as much as we look to air, or as we look to
light or to water, for benefiting our poor. If books do
soothe, and cheer, and console — if books do enlighten,
and enliven, and fortify — if they do make sorrow bearable
to us. or teach us to forget or to endure it, — if they do
create in us harmless tears or happy laughter, — if they
do bring forth in us that peace and that feeling of good-
will of which Mr. Dickens spoke but now, and which
anybody who reads his books must have felt has come
from them, surely we will not grudge these inestimable
blessings to the poorest of our friends ; but will try,
with all our might, to dispense their cheap but precious
benefits over all. Of the educated mechanics, of course,
it is not my business to speak, or even my wish to
pretend to be an instructor. Those who know the
educated mechanics of this vast city, or of this empire,
are aware that they are in the habit of debating the
greatest literary and political questions among them-
selves; that they have leisure to think and talent to speak
much greater than that of other men who may be obliged,
like myself, to appear for a moment before you ; they
have their poets and their philosophers ; their education
is very much changed from that of a hundred years ago,
when, if you remember, Hogarth represented the idle
mechanic as occupied with ' Moll Flanders,' and the
good mechanic as having arrived at reading the history
of that good apprentice who was made Lord Mayor of
London. The mechanics of our days have got their
Carlyles to read, their Dickens on the shelf, and their

Online LibraryEngland) Manchester Public Libraries (ManchesterThe Manchester public free libraries; a history and description, and guide to their contents and use → online text (page 1 of 26)