Exeter Library invites public to help celebrate 50th birthday

Posted on: 16 October 2015

Exeter Library is celebrating its 50th birthday on October 22, and the public is being called on to join the festivities.

The library, then called the ‘New City Library’, was unveiled by the Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, on Friday 22 October 1965.

The opening followed the previous library, in Castle Street, being bombed in 1942.

Since then hundreds of thousands of people have passed through its doors and used its services.

And now, to mark the birthday celebrations, the public is being urged to share their memories and experiences.

Library staff also want to hear about what people think of the service today and how it has changed.

Customers have a choice in how they tell their story. They can leave their thoughts on a special ‘memory wall’ in the library’s foyer.

Or alternatively, they can leave their comments on the library’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ExeterLibrary, or on Twitter, https://twitter.com/exeterlibrary.

Sign the birthday card

As part of the celebrations, library customers are also invited to sign a giant birthday card, designed in the Fab Lab by volunteer Ruth Wickings with the card supplied by CP Arts Exeter.

A 50th birthday cake, sponsored by Cartridges Law, one of the business partners at Exeter Library, has also been baked.

Events leading up to the birthday include the launch of a new Children’s Trail on Saturday 17 October, which has been designed by local artist Richard Jones who also designed the mural in the children’s library.

The interactive trail is designed to encourage children to explore all areas of the library by answering clues which will lead them to find 14 ‘rabbits’ around the building.

The rabbit acrylic cut-outs have been produced by Exeter Library’s FabLab and will act as trail ‘markers’ and will be hidden all over the library.

It’s aimed at all children and they can follow the clues independently, or with the help of an adult.

On the birthday itself, Thursday 22 October, local author Sophie Duffy is holding a special event at 2pm to discuss her new book ‘Bright Stars’ – tickets are £3 and include refreshments. Tickets are available from Exeter Library.

Library cost £4.5million

October 2015 has a double significance, as it also marks 100 years since the foundation stone of the first building in Exeter to contain a library, The Royal Albert Memorial, was laid in 1915.

A new facility was opened in Castle Street in 1930 – but on May 3 1942 many of the building’s 100,000 books were burnt and much of the building was gutted by fire.

When the New City Library first opened it followed a 23-year gap when the city had struggled to provide an adequate library service.

The new building cost round £340,000 – that’s about £4.5 million today.

Over the last 50 years Exeter Library and the Devon Library Service has seen many changes, including in the technology used.

New era, new technology

In 1965 the facilities had an array of what was then cutting edge technology including a gramophone record library, darkroom and printing facilities.

Now 50 years on every library in Devon is on the verge of having Wi-Fi

Even the way the library service is evolving, with an exciting new era is on the horizon. By April 2016 a new independent community led ‘mutual’ organisation will continue to run the libraries service. ‘

This will enable Devon County Council to cope with funding cuts – £50 million reduction in the next financial year – while safeguarding library services in the future.

Flagship library

Cabinet Member for Community and Environmental Services Cllr Roger Croad said: “Exeter Library is one of the busiest libraries in the region, is used by residents across the county and has been a vital centre for learning, education, and community for half-a century.

“This is Devon’s flagship library, and we would really like to hear people’s stories about their experiences and their memories of how it has shaped their lives at this important milestone.”

Cllr Jill Owen, Devon County Councillor for St David’s & St James, said: “As the local county councillor for Exeter Central Library, I am very proud that we have such a wonderful asset in our city.
“As a child I used to go to the old library next door but what we have now is a much improved and stimulating space for all users.
“This 50th anniversary is a cause for much celebration.”

Mick Green Cartridges Business Hub said: “We have had the pleasure to work with Exeter Library since it reopened last year.

“We have worked collaboratively with the Library in providing a drop-in advice service for businesses starting up or growing on the second Tuesday of every month.

“So far this year we have helped over 50 businesses start-up or grow. We look forward to further developing our collaborative relationship with the Library over the coming years.”

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