Reading in the Provinces: Plymouth Public Library, 1810-2016

This project focused on the early history of Plymouth Public Library, a subscription library founded in 1810 and still in existence.

Plymouth with its naval base had benefited greatly from the ongoing Napoleonic Wars. This wealth enabled the founding of the library and the erection of a lavish purpose-built building. The popular history of Plymouth tends to be one of destruction and focuses on the city being heavily bombed in the second world war (the library building, too, was destroyed and the library now operates from different premises). 

This project sought to establish a complementary narrative: Plymouth’s oldest surviving institution, its proprietary library, was founded with money gained through war, enabling the flourishing of culture and the dissemination of knowledge, from the early nineteenth century to the present day. 

For further information please contact Annika Bautz.