Victorian London - Education - Libraries - Putney Library 

Putney New Library

The Generous Gift of Sir George Newnes - A Palatial and Commodious Structure with Many New Features

Tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon the Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Russell of Killowen) will open the splendid new library which has been erected for the people of Putney by Sir George Newnes. The building is situate on a large plot of ground next to the old establishment in Disraeli-road, and contains many new features which will make it unique of its kind. In the first place the assistants at the counter in the lending department have a full view of the whole of the public rooms of the institution. The plan has many obvious advantages. It will dispense with the necessity of a large staff, and it will ensure complete supervision.
    All the departments are really housed in one large spacious chamber partitioned off by means of oak screens studded with windows of artistic design. The lending library is 42ft by 30ft., the newspaper reading-room 52½ft/ by 30ft.; and there are also a magazine-room, a ladies'-room, and a map-room. A dado of white glazed bricks, with brown and chocolate stone dressing, run along all the walls; the fittings are of oak and, and the floors of noiseless pine wood blocks. 
    The Librarian and Clerk to the Commissioners (Mr. C.F. Tweney) anticipates that in course of time the ladies'-room will be converted into a boys-room. Mr. Tweney, by the bye, is not a believer in the exclusiveness of the fair sex. His observations in the old library and kindred institutions have taught him that, as a general rule, the ladies prefer the company of the gentlemen. Personally we would not presume to offer an opinion upon this much-debated point. It is sufficient that for the present, at any rate, the ladies of Putney can follow which ever course they are inclined to favour. On the ground floor in the front of the building a palatial committee room has been provided, and the upper apartments will be occupied by the librarian. The library itself, which is 80ft. back from the road, is approached by a handsome corridor, with an arched ceiling. The plans for the building were prepared by Mr. F.G.Smith, F.R.I.B.A., the architect of the Westminster Public Library, and it has been built by Messrs. H. Roffey, of Putney.

The Growth of the Library

The need for an extension of the Putney Library has been keenly felt for some years past. During the last twelve months, for instance, 60,738 volumes were issued, exceeding by 17,350 the number for the preceding year. Since the opening of the lending library in June, 1889, 497,546 issues have been recorded, a very large number considering the comparative smallness of the stock of books. At the opening of this department, there 3,387 volumes on the shelves, and now, at the end of nine years, they number only 5,934. Quite double this number is required to afford reasonable choice to the 2,288 residents who hold borrowers' tickets.
    For the magazine-room there are provided fifty-nine monthly magazines and reviews, eight quarterlies, and forty-three weekly periodicals. The magazines are transferred to the lending library at the end of each month, and are bound as the volumes are completed. In the news-room twenty-two copies of daily newspapers and fifty-two weekly newspapers and periodicals are provided. The library has, since its establishment twelve years ago, received several important donations from residents, and the library rate, which produces about £750, has been supplemented by donations amounting to over £500. As is the case in many suburban libraries, the fines realize a substantial sum. 

Municipal Journal and London, February 9, 1899