|The Canegie Rules image via this article|
Our very own Hastings Library was originally supported by the Carnegie Foundation, one of 2509 libraries built in the United States, Britain and Ireland, Canada, Australia, the Caribbean, Fiji and New Zealand.
Carnegie intended for the Libraries to be 'Free', all very well for an American Industrialist with their special wealth generating abilities. And most Libraries were able to comply with the condition that they provide a debt-free site for the library, and that they commit an annual sum to support it (for which the penny in the pound rate could be used).
Unfortunately the word 'Free' is open to interpretation, and, as it turned out didn't just mean they needed to provide a free Reading Room. It seemed when Carnegie said 'Free' he meant with no charges, not even for borrowing. This meant the costs would be incorporated into the Rates Bill, and that is never an easy sell. Some Libraries left the scheme at that point, some complied, and one or two went rogue, possibly 'pretending' to misunderstand the rules and simply providing the free Reading Room, but charging for everything else.
|Image courtesy of the ever wonderful Knowledge Bank|
So here we are. The Libraries charge for most services, and if, like me, you're not so good at returning books on time, and forget to go online and 'Renew', well, lets just say the fines can hurt. But, at least we have a Library, accessible to all, and affordable to all who use it wisely. Not only is it a place for books and what-not, it also provides an important social function for young and old.
So if you haven't been to the Library in a few years you should head on down. And next time the Elections come along, make sure to ask your chosen candidate their thoughts on our 'Freeish' libraries, and help make sure they remain an integral part of our cities future.