Annual Report of the Public Library and Art Gallery (1915)

The following annual report was written by the Borough Librarian, Frederick Charles Percy Cole, and provides a summary of the Huddersfield Public Library and Art Gallery in the 12 months up to 31 March 1915.

Read Online

The following is a transcription of a historic book and may contain occasional small errors.

To the Committee of the Public Library and Art Gallery, Huddersfield.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,

I have pleasure in presenting my 6th Annual Report, covering the 12 months ended March 31st, 1915 ; the 17th submitted.


The number of Volumes in stock in the Central Lending Library is now 30,452, as against 29,399 last year, an increase of 1053.

The replacement of worn out and dirty works of Fiction and Juvenile has been steadily proceeded with, the number of new copies added being 905, making the total number of volumes acquired during the year 1958.

As in previous years, the withdrawn copies have been sent to the Sailors’ Rest, Hull (in connection with the Missions to Seamen) and are acknowledged in grateful terms.

The Subscription to Messrs. W. H. Smith for 100 volumes on loan was terminated in December, 1914.

The Issues from the Central Lending Library were 216,161 as against 210,727 last year, an increase of 5,434 ; the daily average issue being 816 as against 800. Taking into consideration the unprecedented condition of affairs existent since the beginning of August last, it is gratifying to note that the volume of work has increased in comparison with the corresponding months of last year; each month since that date, with the exception of November, shewing a greater turnover.

An analysis of the returns shews that from the 1st September, 1914 to 31st March, 1915, of the 70 totals entered under Class Headings, 30 shew increases as against 15 increases in 50 corresponding entries in the preceding 5 months.

August is included in the second division, as during that month last year we were closed a full week for painting and cleaning in consequence of which a decrease of just on 5,000 was recorded, consequently in the normal course an increase is shewn on the full month this year.

The issues in the following classes have declined : Religion and Philosophy, 332 or 14.9 per cent. ; Natural Science, 69, or 3 per cent. ; Fine and Useful Arts, 528, or 6.7 per cent; Biography, 261, or 11 per cent. ; and Fiction, 723, or 8 per cent., while increases are shewn in Social Science, 25, or 2.3 per cent. ; History and Travel, 37, or .7 per cent. ; Literature, 7, and Juvenile.

The increase in the Juvenile Section for this period, amounting to 7,110 (6,380 Fiction and 730 Non-Fiction) or 46 per cent., is a feature to which I would call particular attention.

We have an excellent and well selected stock of books for Juveniles of 2,809 volumes, of which some 730 are non-fictional. These latter are classified and arranged on the shelves in the same manner as the general non-fictional works in the Library and are, together with the Catalogue of this section issued in 1914, a copy of which was sent to the Head Teacher of each Elementary School in the Borough, an excellent means to a most desirable end, namely, that of attracting the children to and getting them interested in the Public Library and all that it means to them.

By the use of the Catalogue teachers can direct their scholars to the books they should look for with a view to extending their interest in particular directions and at the same time the collection affords the children freedom of choice over a wide range of books.

Each school is also supplied with application forms for Borrowers’ Cards for free distribution to scholars leaving school.

It is very desirable that the children should be attracted to the Library, and the methods adopted seem to be working satisfactorily in that direction, judging by the increased use made of this section. My only regret is that owing to limitations of space it is not feasible to extend our activity. What is desirable to fully carry out our purpose is a separate Juvenile Library and Reading Room : the provision of which is impracticable in our present premises.

Taking the figures for the year, increases are shewn in the following classes : Social Science, 110, or 6.7 per cent. ; Fiction, 1,392, or .9 per cent. ; Juvenile, 5,934, or 24.1 per cent. ; and Magazines and Bibliography, 12, or 1.4 per cent. ; the decreases in the other classes being Religion and Philosophy, 531, or 14.6 per cent. ; Natural Science, 45, or 1.2 per cent. ; Fine and Useful Arts, 751, or 5.9 per cent. ; History and Travel, 264, or 3 per cent. ; Biography, 296, or 8.2 per cent. ; and Literature, 127, or 2 per cent. The increase in Juvenile issues shewn above is in Fiction only. Including the Juvenile non-fiction, the increase was 24.5 per cent.

On the whole, the figures are satisfactory, as the details in the foregoing paragraphs indicate; the position during the later months covered by this report shewing an improvement on last year.

The percentage of Fiction issued is 67.7, as against 68.7 last year and is the lowest yet recorded.

The Juvenile Non-Fiction issues for the year were 3,577 as against 2,802, an increase of 775. It is evident that the hope expressed in last year’s report, that the publication of the Juvenile Catalogue, together with the distribution of a copy of the same to each elementary school in the Borough, would result in greater use being made of this side of the Library, is in way of fulfilment.

The largest issues from this department since the opening of the Library have been recorded this year, as follows :—1,677 on Saturday March 15th, 1915 ; and 5,303 for the week February 15th to 20th, 1915, giving a daily average of 1,010.

The number of books in embossed type issued to the Blind was 453 (included in Lending Library total) as against 413 last year, and 399 the previous year.

The number of Borrowers’ cards in force is 7,770 against 6,990 last year, an increase of 780. Non-Fiction (extra) cards are held by 613 borrowers, as against 601 last year, an increase of 12 ; the total number of cards in force being 8,383 against 7,591, an increase of 792. The number of Juvenile Borrowers, age 11 to 12, is 601 as against 346; the number aged 13 to 15, is 695 as against 677 last year.

The number of ratepayer borrowers was 2,362, as against 2,057 ; non-ratepayers 5,408, as against 4,933. The number of male borrowers was 4,069, as against 3,586 ; female borrowers 3,701, as against 3,404.

The publication of lists of additions in the local papers has been in abeyance for some time owing to general conditions. I hope it will be possible to resume this feature, partially, if not in extenso, in the near future.

Special lists on various matters have been prepared and displayed at the Library and are well used, as also is a guide shewing the location numbers in the Classification scheme of the Countries involved in the War, and related topics.


The Teachers’ Special Tickets in force number 70, as against 64 last year; the issues on these have been 467, as against 617 last year.

At Almondbury the numbers are:— tickets 3, last year 2 ; issues 22, last year 42.


shewing the number of books in stock, the total issues, daily averages, and number of borrowers each year since the opening of the Library, is given herewith. It will be noted that the total issues from this department from the opening of the Library to the end of March last was 2,970,753.

Year Ending Books in Stock Books Issued Daily Average Issue No. of Borrowers
April 22nd 1898 4890
March 31st 1899 7124 97015 386 4584
March 31st 1900 9360 115248 438 4298
March 31st 1901 11188 128914 493 4418
March 31st 1902 13252 141945 548 4497
March 31st 1903 14771 156478 598 5202
March 31st 1904 16567 164326 627 5269
March 31st 1905 18806 177665 663 5489
March 31st 1906 19593 183645 686 5742
March 31st 1907 20701 180152 678 5523
March 31st 1908 22004 186546 691 5631
March 31st 1909 22995 190007 722 6274
March 31st 1910 24489 194732 735 6046
March 31st 1911 25807 202385 752 6518
March 31st 1912 27076 206502 777 6623
March 31st 1913 28263 218305 824 6753
March 31st 1914 29399 210727 800 6990
March 31st 1915 30452 216161 816 7770
Total issues 2970753


The number of Volumes now in stock in the Reference Library is 7,272, as against 6,965 last year, an increase of 307. The number of works consulted was 15,280, as against 14,717, an increase of 563. From the table given below, it will be seen that the issue in this Department has doubled since 1910, and with a continuance of the policy of steadily increasing the stock, together with the greater facility in finding and consulting the books resulting on their classification, re-arrangement and numbering, there is every prospect of still greater use being made of it; though it must be pointed out that it is becoming more and more difficult to find shelving accommodation for new works.


March Stock Issues
31st 1899 1104 1765
31st 1900 1509 1770
31st 1901 1649 1765
31st 1902 2175 1808
31st 1903 3034 2458
31st 1904 3839 3975
31st 1905 4298 3574
31st 1906 4321 5062
31st 1907 4663 6947
31st 1908 4909 7843
31st 1909 4977 7966
31st 1910 5464 7506
31st 1911 5807 9251
31st 1912 6208 9220
31st 1913 6658 9510
31st 1914 6965 14717
31st 1915 7272 15280


The number of Specifications and Journals consulted was 704, as against 962; the number of persons using this department being 107, as against 154 last year.

Here again the need for more room is apparent, as with the space now available, it is not possible to shelve or store specifications exceeding a period of 15 years. As they exceed this date removal is necessary, and searchers have to be content with the abridgements for particulars of Patents of older date.


The number of Volumes in stock at the Almondbury Branch Library is 2,603, as against 2,475, an increase of 128. The issues during the 12 months were 6,204 (the highest total recorded since the opening of the Branch), as against 5,445, an increase of 759. Last year’s figures shewed a decrease of 403, the decline being in Fiction and Juvenile Literature. This year both classes shew increases, and here, as at the Central Library, the use made of the Juvenile Section has largely improved, 613 more volumes having been issued than last year.

The number of Borrowers is 208, as against 180, of whom 4 hold non-fiction cards. Juvenile borrowers, aged 11 and 12, number 38 against 28 last year, the number aged 13 to 15 is 24, as against 23.

The Combined Total of books issued and consulted at the Central Lending, Reference, and Patent Libraries, and the Almondbury Branch Library for the year was 238,349, as against 231,851, an increase of 6,498. Total Issue from all departments since the opening of the Libraries 17 years ago, 3,139,290. The Total Stock of books in all departments (exclusive of Patent Library) is now 40,327, as against 38,839, an increase of 1,488.


The number of volumes sent to the binders for re-binding was 1,851, for re-casing 8, and miscellaneous (re-backing, etc.) 93. In addition some thousands of minor repairs were carried out by the staff.

Last year 1,314 volumes were re-bound and 20 re-cased.

For the School Libraries 283 volumes were sent for re-binding, as against 162 dealt with last year.


On p. 20 is given a table shewing the issues for the 12 months from the 37 boxes in the 28 Elementary Schools to which books are supplied. The Total issue was 33,548, as against 33,631 last year. The stock of books is 2,102.

On the return of the boxes, in July last, the contents were thoroughly overhauled, the re-binding noted above attended to, a large amount of repairing, re-labelling, etc., carried out and 252 volumes to replace worn out and dirty books were ordered, prepared for issue, and put into circulation.

All administrative work is carried out by the Librarian and staff at the Central Library, the cost of renewals, stationery, and other materials being charged to the Education Committee whose property the School Libraries are.


The following Exhibitions have been on view during the 12 months — The 22nd Annual Exhibition of the Huddersfield Art Society, April 1st to May 2nd, 1914 (part period) ; Permanent Collection (Oil Paintings and Water Colours) May 23rd to August 15th ; The 8th Autumn Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Water Colours (Artists’ Contributions, by invitation) September 10th to November 28th; Exhibition of Etchings and Engravings, January 2nd to February 13th, 1915; and the 23rd Annual Exhibition of the Huddersfield Art Society, opened on March 18th.

The number of visitors was as follows :—

Art Society, April 1st to May 2nd, 4½ weeks, (part period) 3690
Permanent Collection, May 23rd to August 15th (estimated 2555
Autumn Exhibition, September 10th to November 28th, 11½ weeks 9150
Exhibition of Etchings and Engravings, January 2nd to February 13th, 6 weeks 4282
Art Society, March 18th to 31st, 2 weeks (part period) 1309
Total 20986

The number of visitors to the Autumn Exhibition was 365 greater than last year’s total, the average weekly number being 796. Two pictures were sold.

The Exhibition of Etchings was the first of its kind to be held in the Gallery, and was a source of much interest. Six of the Exhibits were sold.

The usual Opening Ceremony of the Huddersfield Art Society’s Exhibition was this year dispensed with, it being felt undesirable to hold it under the circumstances of the time. In its stead the use of the Gallery was granted to the Society on Wednesday, March 17th for a private view, the Exhibition being thrown open to the public on the following day.

The three oil paintings mentioned in last year’s report are still on loan to the Blackpool Art Gallery Committee.

No additions of Oil Paintings or Water Colours have been made to the Permanent Collection during the year by purchase. One gift has been received, a water colour, “Chapel of Edward the Confessor, Westminster Abbey,” by the late Miss Annie Wood, bequeathed by the artist.

The Collection of Turner Engravings “England and Wales” has been increased by the purchase of 27 prints. These have been framed in similar manner to those previously presented. The number of prints in the collection is now 82, leaving 20 to be still acquired to complete the set.


One change on the staff has taken place this year, Athol Vickerman, junior assistant, resigning to take up a position under the Education Committee. In his place Harry Townend was appointed.

At the Library Association Examinations, held in May, 1914, Mr. Goulden was successful in passing Section III. Classification (and now holds four certificates), and Mr. Boardman in Section VI., Library Routine.


The resignation, on account of leaving the town, of Mr. T. K. Mellor, F.R.A.S., who had been a co-opted member of the Committee since 1903, was tendered in September of last year and accepted with regret.

Mr. J. H. Dransfield, LL.B. and Mr. R. A. Hopkinson were added to the Committee as co-opted members.

A slight outbreak of fire occurred in May, 1914 among some waste paper at the bottom of the staircase near the lift. No damage was done.

Certain recommendations were made to the Estate Office in connection with this matter with a view to minimising the risks of a further outbreak. Correspondence was continued until the end of September, but beyond the provision of an electric lamp, to obviate the use of naked lights (one of the recommendations), nothing has been carried out.

Two portable fire extinguishers have been provided for the Library and Art Gallery by the Chief Constable in accordance with a resolution of the Finance Committee dated August 14th, 1914.

The Chief Constable wrote on 10th February last drawing attention to the necessity of the provision of blinds, which were accordingly obtained and fixed.

Reference must again be made to the pressing need for a building with greater accommodation. All departments suffer in this respect, consequently at busy times the work is carried on under conditions difficult alike to staff and borrowers.

I am, Gentlemen,
Yours obedient servant,
Librarian and Curator.