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This paper uses evidence from light fiction and the mainstream media to sketch out an overview of popular representations of public libraries and librarians since the late nineteenth century. It maps the findings on to scholarly assessments of municipal librarianship. Finally, it introduces the professional experiences of 100+ senior public librarians working in London public libraries from the 1880s to the 1930s. These experiences usefully complicate our understanding of public librarianship at a key moment in an emergent sector. They may also spark discussion about public librarianship today, at a challenging moment of cuts and closures. 


This seminar will be held in person at the Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB. We regret that we are unable to offer live-streaming.

COVID-19 measures may still apply. For the latest guidance on visiting the institute please see: warburg.sas.ac.uk/covid19