Public Libraries Act

British Coat of ArmsOn 30 July 1855, the Public Libraries Act received Royal Assent. This Act repealed the 1850 Act, expanding it to include towns, improvement districts, and parishes (or two parishes with combined population) of 5,000 or more. Town councils or a minimum of ten ratepayers could now request adoption of Act, which required a two-thirds vote of a meeting of ratepayers called by the Mayor, by the Improvement Board, or by the Parish Overseers of the Poor. (The Act specified how to call this meeting, but does not give a quorum.) This Act also doubled the library and museum rate to 1 penny in the pound, all libraries and museums created under Act to be free of charge; the law specifies detailed requirements for oversight of libraries, museums, and/or schools of art or science. Image: The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Amy Woodson-Boulton, “The City Art Museum Movement and the Social Role of Art”

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30 Jul 1855

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