North West libraries – claims to fame

Made possible the love of a couple for eachother, and the library: Rochdale Festival

Made possible the love of a couple for eachother, and the library: Rochdale Festival

Rochdale Library is still benefitting from a love story. A local couple, Mrs Annie and Mr Frank Maskew, met and fell in love in the old library. When Annie passed away in 2006 a bequest was made to the library to purchase literature and philosophy resources to inspire future generations in the joy of reading and thinking.  The library has a specific collection of over 3,000 books and we have a designated area at Rochdale Central Library. The Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival  is now funded by the Maskew’s bequest and has supported the last 5 festivals.  In 2016 Ian and Andrew McMillan both wrote a pome,around this theme and music composer Michael Betteridge to work with the Sunday Boys and Cantare to perform this work.

Manchester Central Library: Morrissey was kicked out of Central Library for defacing books. Henry Normal was also asked to leave Central Library after an argument with a librarian about fines he owed. Victoria Wood, Guy Garvey and Mary Beard have all filmed in Central Library in the last few years. Everything Everything and The Slow Readers Club have performed at Central Library. Karl Marx also spent a lot of time in Manchester Libraries including Central Library, Cheethams Library and John Ryland’s Library writing the Communist Manifesto and other works.

Walt Whitman's canary

Walt Whitman’s canary

Bolton Library has Walt Whitman’s canary. Although the poet never left the USA, he developed close links with the town due to his British fans and he was famous here before in America. See more about the canary and other stuff about Walt Whitman here. Next year is the 200 anniversary of Walt’s birth and there’s going to be a fair bit of commemoration for this.

The new Blackburn Library was opened in 1975 by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson (presumably the fact that Barbara Castle was MP for Blackburn at the time was a major factor in making this happen). Darwen Library meanwhile was the first ‘non-borough’ to adopt the Public Libraries Act in 1871, and the first library in the north of England to adopt the open-access system.  Before then, members of the public had to ask for the librarian to bring the book to them.

Formby Library has its own beehive, the only library in the country to have one, although there is also another in, apparently, Peoria USA (Bee-oria?).

A  library but not as you know it - StoryHouse

A library but not as you know it – StoryHouse

The new Chester StoryHouse is the first combined theatre/cinema/café/bar/library in the country, open officially from 8.30 to 7 but actually normally open until 11pm due to theatre shows. Northwich Library is built on pillars due to town subsidence and can be moved up and down. It’s also this week had the Slow Readers Club as the Charlatans come from the town.

Salford Museum and Art Gallery  is the site of the first unconditionally free public library in 1850. By 1857, it had reached 888,830 visitors per year.

Birkenhead library window

Birkenhead library window

Wallasey Library holds one of the first specialist children’s libraries in the country, opened in 1915. There is a still a lovely oak memorial  reading table in the adult library, originally from the children’s library, dedicated  to the six local school teachers who were killed in WW1. There is a tower which is normally staff-only but the library does “ghost walks” for children into it. The children’s library may not be open much longer as there are moves to combine with the adult library. If you want to link with WW1, then Wilfrid Owen lived near Birkenhead Central Library and the library has a wonderful stained glass window commemorating him.

Rochdale Library is still benefitting from a love story. A local couple, Mrs Annie and Mr Frank Maskew, met and fell in love in the old library. When Annie passed away in 2006 a bequest was made to the library to purchase literature and philosophy resources to inspire future generations in the joy of reading and thinking.  The library has a specific collection of over 3,000 books and we have a designated area at Rochdale Central Library. The Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival  is now funded by the Maskew’s bequest and has supported the last 5 festivals.  In 2016 Ian and Andrew McMillan both wrote a pome,around this theme and music composer Michael Betteridge to work with the Sunday Boys and Cantare to perform this work.

Oldham Library's new sensory room

Oldham Library’s new sensory room

Oldham Library has just launched a sensory room and holds regular shows including a literature festival (Simon Mayo just attended) and a comi-con.

Liverpool Central Library is a modern library in a nineteenth century building. It has the Narnia type experience of walking from the modern library into the restored Victorian Hornby Library with its spiral staircases.

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