Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Who Doesn't Love a Library?

During the Regency era, circulating libraries in England were popular, both for the lending of books, and the safe sociability of their venues.
Lackington's Circulating Library, London
 Construction of a new library was noteworthy as these clips from the book "Local Records; or Historical register of remarkable events....Northumberland and Durham" indicate:

For a subscription fee, the client could borrow books for a designated period. They could also browse the additional items which the shop offered, everything from stationery to perfumes and patent medicines.
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Thursday 09 February 1815

Gloucester Journal - Monday 21 July 1800
Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette - Saturday 10 January 1807
Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 17 April 1818
In this last item, it can be seen that return of library books was a concern two hundred years ago, as it is today.

La Belle Assemblee, the popular ladies' journal, carried advertisements for circulating libraries:
The Gentleman's Magazine of 1808 carried criticism of such libraries:
Specialty circulating libraries were likewise popular. This one in Bath must have been of great service to many people:
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 11 April 1816
Scotland was not behind in its establishment of lending libraries, in fact that library established by Allan Ramsey in 1725 was one of the earliest of all libraries:
The Scotsman - Saturday 11 November 1820
Circulating libraries have appeared in many Regency novels, including my own. They were an important adjunct to the social life of the Beau Monde and a delightful place for an assignation or a chance meeting.

Having to pay a fee for library services seems odd to many of us, though we do pay for our lending privileges with our taxes. It is interesting to reflect that we share the tradition of borrowing books with our Regency ancestors.

'Til next time,