Towards the end of the 1960’s, there was a real surge in demand for books at Blantyre Library by both adults and children alike.
In October 1967 there were 8,701 registered users able to take out books, but by December that same year, the figure had hugely increased to 9,393. The number of people taking out records had steadily increased too from just over 400 to over 500. An increase in non fiction reading was assessed as one of the factors, particularly by children in the junior library to the left as you came into the building. Anybody have any ideas what could have prompted such an increase in interest in those months?
The number of books out at any one time in December 1967 was around 7,000.
Blantyre Library is photographed in 2005 by Robert Stewart.
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Hi Paul, probably the youth counter culture of the 60’s and especially in 1968 which saw the huge major social gains, particularly for women. “The radicalisation of the 1960s triggered demands for the social and economic liberation of women and for gay rights. June 1968 saw the famous strike for equal pay by women workers at the Ford plant in Dagenham, which eventually led to the Equal Pay Act.”
That year also saw the beginning of the “Wages for Housework movement” and, in America, demonstrations against the Miss America “pageant” began. Also the huge May68 demonstration in Paris against the American government and the Vietnam war, attended by university students, and the general population would have triggered newspaper reports back home, young teachers encouraging children to educate themselves about the world.
Gosh, I recall in my early years at David Livingstone Memorial Primary School, a young student, daring to tell us of the theory of Evolution, and told us not to tell our parents she had given us this information. That would have been in the Fifties. The radicalisation of youth had already begun after WW2, and I also recall my teachers telling me to get a library card. I was 4 1/2 not 5 when I started school like a lot of other children.
I remember our teacher encouraging us to become members of the library as knowledge is power and that knowledge, at that time was in books. I took out books on anything that seemed to speak to me and that one of the librarians said to me “Are you sure you can read this book?” It turned out I couldn’t but it was about ballet, which I could read…and I so wanted to be a ballerina!! Perish the thought now, but as a 4 1/2 year old that was my dream.
So a mixture of teachers informing children, adults becoming more informed and taking more interest in and responsibility for their communities, the world wide disgust at the war in vietnam, the revolution in working conditions, all had their part to play I presume in that spike in library numbers. I remember too the biblical prophesy, “Knowledge shall run to and fro” increasing exponentially.