H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England

1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6

1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6

The H. C. Farrow Drug Stores

The H.C. Farrow Drug Store, operated by Harold Claude Farrow (1900-1971), was located at 139 High Street, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England, during the 1930s,.

Page 581 of 1930 Kelly’s Directory for Kent, England

Lending Libraries

Prior to the Public Libraries Act of 1850, libraries in England were mostly privately-funded institutions that allowed access through membership or subscription fees. Costly membership fees often precluded those with insufficient means from using early libraries.

A solution to this problem came by way of lending libraries. Often a small room or a shelf in a local business, church or school, lending libraries offered the general public a means for borrowing books in localities that were without public libraries.

School of Oriental Studies Library, London, England

Post-1945 Card of Admission, School of Oriental Studies Library

School of Oriental Studies Library, Post-1945 Card of Admission (front)
School of Oriental Studies Library, Post-1945 Card of Admission (back)

The School of Oriental Studies

Opened in 1916, The School of Oriental Studies, part of the University of London in London, England, was originally housed in the former London Institution buildings at Finsbury Circus.  In the mid-1930s, the School of Oriental Studies moved to Bloomsbury and subsequently, the buildings of the London Institution were abandoned and then demolished.

Finsbury Circus and The London Institute (Public Domain Pre-1923 Postcard)

Focusing on Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies, the library holds over one million volumes and electronic resources for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and was designated by HEFCE in 2011 as one of the United Kingdom’s five National Research Libraries.   Since 1973, the library has been located in the Philips Building on the Russell Square  campus of the University of London.  The Philips Building was designed by British architect Sir Denys Lasdun, who also designed some of Britain’s most famous brutalist buildings such as the National Theatre and the Institute of Education.   

Manchester Free Libraries, Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England

Borrower’s Card No. 9199 (2nd Series) issued to Henry Thomas Manners on May 16, 1865

1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (front)
1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (back)

Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch

The Manchester Free Library at Campfield was the first lending library in England.   

Mirroring the Museums Act of 1845, which would “[empower] boroughs with a population of 10,000 or more to raise a ½d for the establishment of museums,” the Public Libraries Act (also known as the Free Library Act) was instituted in England.  While establishing the Act was not without argument, most notably the imposition of taxes, the voting body (the burgess-role) adopted the Act and became law with Royal Assent on August 14, 1850.

Soon after the Public Libraries Act was established, the Mayor of Manchester, John Potter (1815-1858), began a two-year effort to raise funds to house and stock the future library, and with the support of wealthy benefactors, the library finally opened with much fanfare on September 5, 1852.  Attendance at the opening ceremonies was over 1,000 persons, and included addresses from notable writers, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Sir Edward Bulwark Lytton.

During the first weekend, nearly 10,000 people passed through the doors of the new library.

Etching by unknown artist of Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England (Source:  “Manchester Public Free Libraries: a History and Description, and Guide to Their Contents and Use,” by William Robert, 1899) (Usage: no known copyright restrictions)

Edward Edwards (1809-1882) – First Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries (1852-1857)

Edward Edwards was one of the three proponents of the  Public Library Act of 1850, and subsequently appointed the first librarian of the Manchester Public Library.  While being granted an £80 pension, his “passion for the spread of knowledge led to personal poverty.”  His books and papers being his only assets at his death, he died penniless at the age of 73.

Andrea Crestadoro (1808-1879) – Chief Librarian, Manchester Free Libraries (1864-1879)

Andrea Crestadoro was Chief Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries from 1864 to 1879.  He is credited with the development and implementation of the Keyword in Context Indexing catalog system used at the Manchester Free Libraries.

Henry Thomas Manners (abt. 1819-1895)

Henry Thomas Manners was an English merchant for Fabric manufacturer, Ashton & Company of Manchester, England.