Thursday 7 June 2012

'Independent' Library?

"Cool" you might say. "Libraries!     ...but wait, what's an independent library?"

Considering that the AIL is made up of them, probably the best place to begin this blog is with an outline of what exactly makes an independent library.  Independent libraries are those libraries which are self-reliant with regard to funding and not wholly dependent on national or local government.  Those in existence today were generally founded as proprietary subscription libraries, endowed libraries, the libraries of mechanics' institutes and the libraries of literary and scientific institutions.  Together, the Association's members possess over two million books and have many listed buildings in their care. Many also possess charitable status. They combine the preservation of their historic collections and beautiful buildings with the supply of the latest books and periodicals, a personal service to their members and research facilities for non-members. The member libraries of the AIL are incredibly varied: the largest and best-known member library is the London Library, which houses one million books and serves over 8,000 members just two minutes from Piccadilly Circus; the smallest is the Tavistock Subscription Library which houses just 1500 books in a restored portion of a tenth and eleventh-century abbey building.  For a full list see the 'members' page.

So now that you know what an independent library is you should probably arrange a visit to your nearest one.  The independent libraries are located all over the UK from Penzance to Whitby in England, Flintshire in Wales, Westerkirk, Langholm and Innerpeffray in Scotland, Dublin in Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland!  

And you will, of course, want to keep checking back on this blog to see what we are up to!

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