- Public Libraries Act 1850
The Public Libraries Act 1850 is an Act of the British Parliament. In the
1840s, support grew for the concept of providing public libraries for the British people championed by chartist Edward Edwards and the liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) Joseph Brotherton, and William Ewart. In 1849, a Bill was introduced by William Ewart in the House of Commons to provide for a system of "libraries freely open to the public...in towns in Great Britain and Ireland." However he faced considerable opposition from Conservatives opposed to the idea of free public libraries that might encourage the working class to challenge their betters. Eventually a watered down Bill was passed in 1850 but it was still this Act that provided the genesis of the modern public librarysystem in Britain. It was amended in 1853 to include Scotland, and again in 1855. It still took a long time for many towns to adopt the Act, as they had to raise a local rate or tax to pay for the library service.
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Llibrary.htm History of the Public Libraries Act]
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