Last August I wrote a blog post about the UK’s first ever free public lending library for children, which opened in 1882 on Shakespeare Street in Nottingham. At the end of the post I mentioned that Read on Nottingham and I were calling for the building to be marked with a commemorative plaque. We sent a proposal letter, co-signed by many notable members of Nottingham’s children’s literacy and literature community, to the Nottingham Civic Society (who administer commemorative plaques in Nottingham) and I’m pleased to report that it was accepted.
The plaque was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor David Trimble on 4 May 2022. After the plaque had been revealed, I read out a message written to mark the occasion by Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell.
Me, Councillor Angela Kandola, Lord Mayor David Trimble, Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark and two children from Forest Fields Primary School.
2022 is a particularly appropriate year to commemorate the library as it is the 140th anniversary of its opening. After the unveiling, an event celebrating this anniversary was held at the Nottingham Mechanics Institute, which is just around the corner from the former library building. We were celebrating the first free children’s library so, as well as the Lord Mayor and various other notable grown-ups, the event was attended by a class of Year 2 children from Forest Fields Primary School.
The original children’s library was funded by merchant philanthropist Samuel Morley, but set up and run by Nottingham City Council. At the end of the event Nigel Hawkins, the Council’s current Head of Culture and Libraries presented a preview of Nottingham’s new Central Library, which aims to include ‘the best children’s library in the country’ and is due to open in August 2023.
Nottingham’s proposed new Central Library, located on the site formerly occupied by the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre and bus station, aims to be ‘the best children’s library in the country’. (Image: NCC)
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to Nottingham Civic Society for approving and installing the plaque, Xenia Students for allowing the plaque to be fixed to their building, Read on Nottingham for co-organising the proposal and celebration event, along with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Nottingham Culture and Libraries.