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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.

Customer Notice: Online Ordering

Please do not use the online ordering system which is currently not working. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience this will cause.

Thousands of digital images of documents are available to view on the website and images can be ordered offline. For instructions on how to place an order please visit the 'Buy Images' page.

If you have any queries about ordering digital images please email Lincs to the Past Orders@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

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Lincolnshire's heritage is a rich, diverse and precious legacy. Your donations will be used to improve your visit through better exhibitions, increased digitisation and conservation work. Your generosity will help to preserve and keep vibrant our heritage for future generations. Thank you for your support.

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Last updated: 21 February 2014

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