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Adderley Park Library
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One of Birmingham's early branch libraries - demolished in 1965.
In 1855 Charles Bowyer Adderley offered 10 acres of land to Birmingham Town Council to be a public park. This was Birmingham's first public park, and was opened in August 1856. Adderley had erected a building in the park to be a library and reading-room. For the opening ceremony Richard Monckton Milnes MP wrote an Ode 'to be sold at a bazaar for the Adderley Park Library.' The ode began by celebrating the soldiers who had fought in the Crimea, and ended with verses praising the benefits of nature for the working-man. The last verse ran:
So Friends! while Arts are wed to frame your perfect plan.
Broadcast be Truth and Knowledge spread o'er this rich soil of Man.
Ideal parks - ideal shade - lay out with liberal hand -
But teach the souls you strive to aid to feel and understand.
The library was opened and eventually adopted by the Free Libraries Committee, which was set up in 1860. It was re-opened as Birmingham's second Free Library in January 1864.
The Sixth Annual Report from the Free Libraries Committee recorded that 'The library originally contained but a small number of books; since it has been under the management of the committee 325 volumes have been added.' It is noticeable in the reports that there were far fewer books than in the other free libraries - 4,207 books in 1873, compared with the 49,147 books in Constitution Hill in that year. The opening hours were shorter - 6pm - 9pm in 1867, compared with newsroom opening hours 9am - 10pm for the other libraries.
This may have been partly because, although administered by and paid for by the Birmingham Free Libraries Committee, Adderley Park was not in Birmingham. It lay on the Saltley side of the boundary. In 1891, when Birmingham's boundaries were to be enlarged by the inclusion of Saltley, Harborne and Balsall Heath, it was reported 'The sanction of the City Counvil has been obtained for the alteration and enlargement of the Adderley Park Library.'
The library was re-organised and re-opened in 1893. Thereafter the opening-hours were as long as those in the other free libraries. Harborne and Balsall Heath each had a free library built as a condition for their inclusion in Birmingham.
Adderley Park Library was demokished in 1965.