Books, Buildings and Social Engineering: Early Public by Alistair Black

By Alistair Black

Books, constructions and Social Engineering a big effect at the cultural and academic lifetime of the rustic, British public libraries started to be supported through neighborhood taxation in 1850 yet their constructions now signify a tough architectural challenge for lots of groups. This publication provides socio-architectural background of public library structures from 1850 to 1939.

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The 1886 Act also removed the population limit, although this made little difference to most small authorities which found it extremely difficult to contemplate, let alone establish, a viable library service. A legislative breakthrough came in the form of an Act in 1893 (1894 in Scotland) which allowed local authorities to establish a library service merely by local authority resolution - that is to say, without recourse to a special vote by ratepayers which for many progressive authorities had proved a real obstacle.

38 The national stah1s of the post-First World War public library was embodied in the Public Libraries Act (1919), the most important library legislation since the inaugural statute of 1850. The Act arose directly from the war and in particular the reconstruction movement - aimed at plam1ing a better post-war world, improving wartime morale and undercutting disaffection -that accompanied it. In a report of 1915 (the Adams Report) the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust highlighted the paucity of provision outside urban areas, advising a small selection of experiments in supplying books to rural communities, along the lines of the hundreds of libraries that had been given to Scottish villages between 1910 and 1912 by the Paisley philanthropist, James Coates.

30 THE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND SOCIETY, 1850-1939 37 In the last quarter of the nineteenth century attitudes to poverty and the deserving/undeserving dichotomy began to change; and so with it, to a degree, the purpose and practice of public librarianship. The late nineteenth century witnessed a 'rediscovery of poverty', the Victorian middle class being shaken out of the social complacency into which it had fallen during the prosperous decades of the mid-Victorian boom by a series of revelations by social investigators, observers and reformers like Charles Booth, Octavia Hill and B.

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