One of the pleasures of preparing for Heritage Open Day (open to the public from 10am, with last entry at 3.30pm, Saturday 14th September) is getting together information on parts of the Library’s history. For the first time I have started to put something together on the staff, based on work done by both Peter Hoare and Neal Priestland. The behaviour of some of them could not be described as anything near exemplary, over the years four were dismissed from office. Here is a brief account of the first two Librarians of Nottingham Subscription Library, mostly gleaned from the minute books.
April 1816 – April 1819 William Hardy
He was the first librarian and was paid £30 per year plus a quarter of the fines collected.
He and his wife lived in the house at Carlton Street and then at Bromley House.
He was required to keep the Library and the Newsroom open every weekday until 9 or 10 p.m.
He was to negotiate with suppliers of the first £100 worth of books and must have introduced many of the Library’s practices and implemented the rules and regulations.
From about 1816 up to his departure in about 1819 he witnessed the first 116 signatures on the Library Rules document.
The early catalogues may have been his work.
He was ill in 1817 and again in March 1818 when a boy was employed.
This may have prevented him from ‘fully attending to the duties of his situation’ (27/3/1818) and which may have delayed production of the second catalogue proposed in 1817 but not published until 1819 after William Hardy had left the Library.
In 1818 a boy was employed as an assistant and Mr & Mrs Hardy to continue in the House (30/10/1818).
April 1819 – 1820 Valentine Kirk
He was appointed as assistant librarian on 24/7/1818 and redesignated as a temporary librarian by October 1818 during the illness of William Hardy, then the librarian (30/10/1818). Kirk was confirmed as Librarian on 6/4/1819. He was paid £25 per year but did not receive the quarter of the fines that Hardy had (30/10/1818). Mr and Mrs Hardy continued to use the living accommodation at the Library at least initially after Kirk’s appointment.
He received an extra £5 for attending the Library between 6.30 p.m. and closing time (16/4/1819). He may have worked on the 1819 catalogue but he resigned in May 1820 (1/5/1820) with effect of the end of June. He later became the librarian to the Artizans’ Library after leaving Bromley House.