08 June 2010

Northamptonshire County Council’s Central Library will be celebrating its 100th birthday this week (Wednesday 9th June).

The library first opened in its Abington Street headquarters in 1910 and a hundred years later is the county’s most popular library with over 1,000 visits from people every day.

The library will be celebrating its centenary with a special birthday celebration on Wednesday, as well as a host of events and activities throughout June.

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for customers and communities said: “Our Central Library is a landmark for the town centre and an essential stop for many people visiting Northampton town centre. Regular visitors to the library will also know that last year the ground floor was transformed as part of an £180,000 project to improve the library for customers.

“Today’s libraries offer a very different range of services to those available 100 years ago, with self-service machines, DVD and CD hire, internet access, children’s activities, health and wellbeing information and lots more on offer for our customers. If you haven’t visited a library recently, it’s definitely worth dropping by.”

Additional information:

A variety of activities are taking place including a behind the scenes tour of the library, a memory board, a display of the original plans for the library and a photographic exhibition, experience a 1910 library and a birthday cake.

Please also see the following links:



for details of other events organised to celebrate the 100th birthday.

About Northamptonshire Central Library:

  1. The library was started in 1876 in the town hall with books donated by the Mechanic Institute
  2. In 1883, it moved into Guildhall Road into the present museum building where the museum and the library were run together.
  3. By 1904 the museum needed more space so a site was purchased in Abington Street.
  4. The site in Abington Street had previously been used as the depot for the horses that pulled the horse drawn trams in the town. In 1904 they went over to electric.
  5. The town council wrote to Andrew Carnegie, a multi-millionaire philanthropist who funded over 2,000 libraries in the English-speaking world. In fact he contributed towards three other libraries in the county, Kettering (1904), Rushden (1906) and Irchester (1909).
  6. Andrew Carnegie gave £15,000 to the town to build the library which was built by Herbert Norman of Northampton out of Weldon Stone.
  7. The building has a 300-seater Carnegie Lecture Hall which was used for concerts and lectures - never for political or for religious purposes as part of the trust deed. It is now used at the Northamptonshire Studies Room.
  8. On the outside of the building are four statues: John Dryden and Thomas Fuller (both poets born in the county), George Washington (first President of the United States who ancestors came from Sulgrave in Northamptonshire) and also of course Andrew Carnegie.
  9. It was also one of the first libraries to have a children’s library in the world (opened in 1912).
  10. The library was refitted in the 1960s and again in the 1980s and the ground floor last year.