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King’s Lynn library celebrates its 110th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 May 2015

King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday - Library Manager Kerry Murray in period costum in the Stanley collection. Picture: Matthew Usher.

King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday - Library Manager Kerry Murray in period costum in the Stanley collection. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2015

Celebrations to mark the day when the Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie declared the building officially open.

King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday - The original opening in 1905. Picture: Matthew Usher.King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday - The original opening in 1905. Picture: Matthew Usher.

As he turned the custom-made key to open the front door, the event marked the start of something very special.

From then onwards, books and literature were going to be available for everyone in the area to enjoy.

And yesterday, King’s Lynn Library, which is currently the oldest library building in Norfolk, marked that special day with 110th anniversary celebrations.

To commemorate the building’s significance in the town over the years, staff dressed as librarians from Edwardian times, retired librarians caught up over tea and cake and a series of events were held throughout the day.

King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday. Picture: Matthew Usher.King's Lynn Library celebrates its 110th birthday. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Library manager Kerry Murray said: “There had been a library in King’s Lynn before ours opened, the Stanley Library, but it was by subscription only.

“Andrew Carnegie grew up in a family which understood the significance of education and learning and he wanted that for everyone.

“So the public library was built on a £5,000 grant and is one of 660 Carnegie Libraries around the country and in Ireland.”

Books from the original Stanley Collection were also on display, including an atlas dating back to 1683.

But when the library first opened, the people of King’s Lynn did not realise that the building on London Road was going to play such a significant role in the town’s history.

In 1914, and throughout the First World War, the tower was used as an observation point for soldiers tasked to look out for possible invasion and Zeppelin threats.

Troops from across the country etched their names in the tower walls and these can still be seen today.

Mrs Murray added: “Libraries may have changed over the years, but their foundation is the same; we’re a hub for the community and that’s so important.

“Of course we still have the shelves of books, but we also hold events and there are 18 computers and wi-fi access here for visitors’ phones and i-Pads.

“We have moved with the times and all these services are available to everyone.”

Colin Manning, deputy mayor of West Norfolk, said: “The history of this building is incredible. It’s lovely to see that the library services are so popular in King’s Lynn.”

What are your memories of King’s Lynn Library? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk

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