Development of Public Library Service in Waterford
The Public Libraries (Ireland Act) was passed in 1855. In 1894 a public meeting of Waterford City Citizens, chaired by the Mayor decided to make plans to open a public library. A committee was formed and a premises at Adelphi Terrace was obtained. The first librarian was John Morrin. The Reading Room was opened in 1896 and the Library in 1897. Waterford Corporation adopted the Libraries Act in 1896.
In 1901 an application for funding was made to Andrew Carnegie in the names of Richard Hearne (Mayor), Alexander Nelson (High Sheriff) and R.A. Sheehan. Bishop.
A grant of £5000 was made to the City, this was the first substantial amount granted to the Library movement in Ireland. The donation was such the Corporation decided to bestow the Freedom of the City on Andrew Carnegie. The site for the new Library was donated by Alexander Nelson.
The foundation stone for Lady Lane Library was laid by Carnegie in October in 1903.
He was made a Freeman of Waterford City on the same day, in recognition of his gift of a free library to the people of the City. In his speech at the laying of the foundation stone, Andrew Carnegie said: "I rejoice fellow citizens, that the first act which I have to perform as a citizen of Waterford is to lay the foundation of your free library, maintained by public taxation, and therefore the library of all. Not even his Worship the Mayor nor his Lordship the Bishop have one privilege within these walls which is not the birthright of the humblest citizen of Waterford"
On completion of the library building project in 1905, the Mayor applied for further grant aid of £800 for books and furniture and was granted £200. The Architect was Albert Edward Murray of Dublin and the building contractor was Patrick Costen of Waterford.
The Thoms directory of Waterford 1909 describes the building as having a 'splendid limestone-faced classic structure, standing on the corner of Lady Lane and Bakehouse Lane'. The main doorway had the word "Library" carved above it, this can still be seen on the exterior of the building today. The original building had a Ladies Reading Room, complete with a toilet and washand basin, a feature common in Ladies Reading Rooms of the time. Other parts of the library included a Reference Room, reading room, two book rooms an Art Room, a store Room, caretakers accommodation and a toilet.
The first Librarian was Mr. John J Morrin and the stock of the new library amounted to 5000 books.
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