New book delves into 'massively important' library history

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 May 2014

Matthew Webber and Lisa Furness with their 'Library Book'.

Matthew Webber and Lisa Furness with their 'Library Book'.


WESTON'S central library opened in 1900, following a number of heated debates about the dangers of allowing all classes of people access to books.

Matthew Webber and Lisa Furness with their 'Library Book'.Matthew Webber and Lisa Furness with their 'Library Book'.

This is just one of many facts two authors discovered researching a new book on the history of Weston’s library service.

Writer Matthew Webber and photographer Lisa Furness have spent the past two years working on Library Book.

It traces the history of the now-empty public library in the Boulevard, established by public subscriptions, through to the new one at the town hall.

Matthew said: “It has been quite an intensive project.

The library on 1953The library on 1953

“Obviously the old library was important for the community and for a lot of people it was a really emotive subject. People were scared about losing something important to the town.

“The new library seems to have got good feedback.

“We chose the project initially because there was lot of debate about libraries across the country and their place in communities.

“To many people it was a really social space to meet and use as a work space.

The library in 1957 (picture: Ted Amesbury).The library in 1957 (picture: Ted Amesbury).

“I think what we saw is it is massively important for the town, even if the traditional role has changed somewhat.”

During their research, Matthew and Lisa put questionnaires in the library, asking people to submit their memories. Many of these now form part of the book.

Matthew said: “We had some from a couple of people using it since the 1930s and 1940s and their memories as children.

“We had one from 1933 who had been there when she was eight years old and said how much it had changed to the one we know now and how incredibly formal it was when you first went in there.

The refurbished Town Hall library.The refurbished Town Hall library.

“What was clear is people really care about Weston and the history and living there. It was really nice to see so many people care about their town that much.”

Matthew and Lisa are now touring the country giving talks on libraries and how communities have responded to changes to services in their area, using Weston’s library service as an example.

■ Library Book, priced £38, is available from

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