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Fitzgerald's Town

library took up one such

library took up one such offer and together they imported books to the value of 28 pounds from England. 8 Book buying continued apace, financed in part from library funds and partly from modest government grants so that within a few years stock had risen to a total of 669 volumes and there were 1105 book and 192 newspaper withdrawals. Some of the titles listed in library records of those early days included works such as Last Glacial Epoch of Geology, a two volume biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, a three volume History of American War and two works by H.M. Stanley, How I Found Livingstone and At Home with the Patagonians. There were one or two novels by Thackeray and Trollope, but nothing that would be considered as light reading by today’s standards. Newspapers included the Illustrated London News, The Spectator, The Weekly Press and the Australasian, all of which would offer a wide coverage of news although with a bias towards the Home country. It is worth repeating here that the Lincoln Farmers Club also provided a reading room for its members, stocked with farming papers and magazines which it was hoped would offer a more profitable occupation than playing cards in the local hotel! A problem common to all libraries is that of missing or lost books. In 1881 the committee reported that 25 books were missing and that this could be attributed to the undesirable practice of members changing books out of hours. 9 Did they all have a key, or was the building never locked? To help control the number of missing books it was decided to buy 1,000 special labels to be pasted into the books in order to record the date on which the book was to be returned. Despite the early optimism the library fell upon hard times, especially in the slump years of the 1880's. By 1889 the library was in dire financial straits and so a fund raising concert was held in the school room to address the problem, and although the programme was an excellent one the number of tickets sold barely covered costs. Nevertheless the concert was enjoyed by those who attended and afterwards the floor was cleared for dancing which continued until 4am the following morning. Unfortunately, the situation continued to deteriorate and in May 1900 a meeting, held in the school room was called to consider re-opening and re-organising the public library 10 , implying that it had been closed, for a short time at least. The most important topic considered was that of moving the library to a more central position although it was difficult to decide where the building should be re-located. There were two options. 158

One was to accept the offer from the Druids to move the building to their land, (where the Community Centre stands opposite the service station on Gerald Street), for an annual rental of ten shillings, and the second was to place it on public land on the western side of the L1 next to the bridge. The second option was considered the better one and that is where it went after the necessary permission was sought and obtained. Messrs Jennings, Exon, Restall and Dr Cooke were appointed to organise the shift. In September 1900 the building was moved to its new site by H. Bennett and his traction engine for no cost. 12 The move to a more central site was a good one. To help defray costs donations were sought and with the help of a ladies’ committee a fund raising concert was organized. The newly located building was renovated, new books were purchased, new rules formulated, and on Monday 4 December 1900, three months after the move, the library was again open for business. The new rules are summarized as follows: 13 1. Library to open Monday and Thursday 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm. 2. Annual subscription to be five shillings, payable in advance. 3. Subscribers could borrow only one book at a time, or no more than three volumes of any particular title. 4. Books to be returned within 14 days and not to be lent by the borrower. 5. No book that had been in the library for less than 6 months could be borrowed by the same subscriber a second time within a week of it being returned. 6. Any damaged or defaced book to be replaced or paid for by the person at fault. 7. Periodicals to lie on the table for two weeks and afterwards to be returned within one week. 8. No smoking in the library. 9. Subscriber to agree to abide by rules before being allowed to use the library. Following the move a decision had to be made about the original site. The committee hoped to sell it, but because it had been gifted in perpetuity to the residents of the Lincoln School District this 159

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