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Lincoln Central Library Centenary Exhibition

The earliest Public Libraries in Lincoln were Subscription Libraries. These were established in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.

Subscription Libraries are funded by from membership fees, with access is restricted to members and their families. Often booksellers also ran Subscription Libraries.

The Public Libraries Act of 1850 gave Local Authorities the power to establish free to use Public Libraries, but Lincoln did not get one until 1895 when the first Public Library opened above the Buttermarket in the Upper High Street.

By 1909 this Library had out grown its premises and a new Committee was formed with the aim to build a new Public Library in Lincoln. Thanks to a £10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie the Committee was able to hire the architect Reginald Bloomfield to draw up plans for the new Library to be built in Free School Lane. The new Library was opened on 24th February 1914.

The Library continued to be heavily used throughout the first half of the 20th Century with the addition of a Children’s Library in 1955 and an extension to the Lending Section in 1963. In February 1964 Lincoln Central Library celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Later, in the summer of 1964, the Tennyson Research Centre opened in the dome of the Carnegie Library. New technology was introduced such as the book conveyer fondly remembered by many readers. Book tickets were replaced with barcode scanning as computerisation increased.

In the 1990s the Library was once again extended with a complete rebuild of the rear whilst retaining the original Carnegie Library front. The Library closed in November 1993; with Children’s, Lending and Reference books relocated to Greyfriars Museum and Local Studies relocated to Lincoln Castle in January 1994.The new Library re-opened to the Public in June 1996 and was officially opened by Melvyn Bragg on Wednesday 30th October 1996.

Today the Library stocks not just books but DVDs, CDs and provides free IT access for all. In 2009 self-service technology was introduced.

Look Out For


OPEM exhibition at The Collection

28 January - 2 May 2017

Exhibition Opening Times: 10:00am - 4:00pm


OPEM 4 is the fourth biennial open exhibition hosted by The Collection and Usher Gallery, and will showcase the work of local and regional artists who were chosen by a pair of industry experts (writer/curator Elinor Morgan and artist Brian Griffiths) based on the quality and originality of their work. Hundreds of artists from around Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and more entered into the competition, hoping to have their work featured centre-stage at a professional art exhibition.


The winning artists are:

• Reece Straw

• Jake Kent

• Stephanie Douet

• Jake Moore

• Selina Mosinski

• Matthew Chesney

• Ellen Brady

• Colette Griffin


This will be the first time some of these artists have exhibited with a professional institution. By winning the competition these artists will each receive money and supplies to fund the creation of an all-new original piece of work for this particular show. Other prizes include a £3000 purchasing/commissioning prize which has been sponsored by the Heslam Trust, while another artist will receive their own solo exhibition in The Usher Gallery.


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Last updated: 21 February 2014

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