The Public Libraries Act 1850 was presented by the Parliament of the U.K. This act spanned over all of England and Wales at the time however all of modern U.K. have benefitted from the precedents set by this legislation. 


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Timeline of Events Associated with U.K.

Date Event Manage
14 Aug 1850 to 14 Aug 1850

The Public Libraries Act 1850

The printing press and subsequently the phenomenon of reading for pleasure had long been around Europe, but unfortunately this luxary was mainly concetrated with the wealthy who had much more free time and a could afford to purchase essentially their own private liraries. After a long adjustement from an agrarial society through the industrial revolution the middle class was left with much more free time on their hands, so the idea to promote reading and other educational activities for the poor to spend this free time more wisely came from those in power. The Public Libraries Act 1850 was an act of the United Kingdom Parliament which first gave local governments the right to establish a free public library. This act was the first step towards an organized institution designed for free access to information which reflected the changing moral and social views on education at the time. There was certainly a bit of controversy regarding the passing of the Act as many felt as if they were being taxed without consent, however there was an overwhelming majority in favor of providing this information free to the public. After the first U.K. public library was established in Winchester in 1851 there are now 4,145 free to the public libraries throughout the U.K. 

Dear friend, I fear my life has become rather butter upon bacon lately, I have struggled with the closing of my family's farm and with it the changing of our identity.  That being said, I have left for London in search of work, and perhaps a taste of what more I could enjoy in life. I had recently spoken with a dizzy aged church bell, and while she held my attention hostage she did offer me a helpful insight to explore the new library. I decided literature was the necessary salvation for my untested mind and decided to read Charlotte Brontë's Villette. Aye friend, what a marvelous decision that would be as I feel as if I can explore my thoughts with much more intensity than ever before. However, I must admit to the feelings of anger while consuming the novel in which there is much discussion of a study in the House of Bretton. I cannot help but to feel contempt for this fact as knowledge has recently been proven to hold enormous power yet the rich are able to hold the majority with their ability to have in home studys. I will continue to make use of my newfound freedom from mental incarceration by continuing to consume as much literature as my mind and spirit can. Ah my dearest friend, ah humanity! 

Bronte, Charlotte. (1853) Villette. [online] United Kingdom: SMith, Edler & CO. Available from: Cove Studio [accessed September 2020] 

Public Libraries Act 1850. (2020, February 28). Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Libraries_Act_1850