'GOOD FEELING AND BROTHERLINESS': LEISURE, THE SUBURBS AND THE SOCIETY OF PUBLIC LIBRARIANS IN LONDON, 1895–1930
Speaker: Dr Michelle Johansen (Bishopsgate Institute)
This paper describes the shared leisure experiences of the first generation of municipal public librarians in London, taking as its focus the chief and deputy librarians who met regularly as the Society of Public Librarians (1895-1930). Drawing upon the evidence of professional journals and records and Society letters, minutes and ephemera, the study reconstructs the spare time activities and interests of this cohort of suburban men.
It finds that here were outward-looking individuals enjoying variegated and fulfilling leisure lives. Their pursuit of knowledge and the cross-institutional relationships they fostered and sustained across more than three decades seemingly owed more to the mid-nineteenth century working-class cultures of self-help and mutual improvement than to the self-interested and socially insecure sensibilities conventionally ascribed to the residents of London’s rapidly-expanding suburbs; this was especially the case during the early part of the period under scrutiny.
Adopting the research methods of the genealogist it becomes possible to account for this apparent anachronism, at the same time beneficially complicating our understanding of the changing nature of leisure practices in the metropolitan suburbs from the 1890s to the inter-war period.
Dr Johansen is the Schools and Community Learning Officer at the Bishopsgate Institute. She undertook her doctoral thesis on the topic of 'The Public Librarian in Modern London: The Case of Charles Goss at the Bishopsgate Institute' and has had articles published in Library History.
Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 28th January.
Location: Bloomsbury Room (Room G35), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
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