Victorian London - Education - Libraries - East Ham Library 

EAST HAM LIBRARIES.

Meeting the Needs of a Growing Industrial Population.

EAST HAM has an industrial population without being an industrial centre in itself. In other words, the working people who live within its bounds find their daily occupation in West Ham or London. There are no factories in East Ham : it is one of the many thickly-populated residential quarters which have grown up around London. Its population has increased in eight years from 32,000 to 90,000 people.

Unanimous Adoption of Library Act.

    Public libraries are no where more needed than among such a population. There are  few places where libraries are more appreciated. The Act was adopted unanimously in East Ham. To have seen the crowds who turned out last Saturday to the opening ceremony of the new library would have convinced anyone of the keen interest the people take in the subject. Handsome and commodious though the new institution is, it is still only a branch library. It is to serve the Plashet district. The North Woolwich district of East Ham has a branch already, and the Upton Park district is to have a third. Meanwhile, the central is being arranged for, and when that is completed, in connection with the new municipal buildings, East Ham will be the better off in the matter of libraries than any district of its size in the country.

The Latest Library

    The new building has been given a good site in a corner of Plashet Park. It is architecturally beautiful, and is crowned by a handsome clock tower. Mr. Passmore Edwards contributed 4,000 towards the cost, the District Council finishing the work with another 1,500. The family of Mr. Councillor Knight gave the clock in the tower, and Mr. W.H.Savage, A.M.Inst., C.E., gave the mechanism for striking the hours. A gift of a thousand volumes of technical books has also been received from Mr. Councillor J.H.Bethell. Altogher some 10,000 volumes are now on the shelves. A good librarian has been fond in Mr. W. Bridle, who has completed as special catalogue of juvenile books, illustrated with portraits of well-known writers.

Mr. Herbert Gladstone's Congratulations.

Mr. Herbert Gladstone, M.P., in opening the new library, congratulated the district on its public library zeal. He said that he himself was not entirely disqualified from speaking at the opening of a public library, because he had spent his life amid an atmosphere of books, and had assisted to build up at least one great private library. (Hear, hear.) The conditions of modern life seemed to make it more and more difficult for the mass of the people to cultivate systematic habits of reading. There seemed to be conflicting tendencies going on. On the one side there was the spread of education the growth of libraries, and an increasing number of well-to-do and leisured people, while on the other side there was the hurry and racket of modern life, which seemed to be constantly increasing and preventing the masses of the people from devoting their time adequately to any systematic study. There was  also the great spread of newspaper , and he hoped they would not imagine that half-an-half over a newspaper has established a taste for reading.

Municipal Journal and London, November 4, 1899