Dr. Thomas J Walker, a prominent local member of the medical profession, was instrumental in persuading the City Council to establish a Public Library. As a consequence, the Peterborough Free Library opened on April 10th 1893 in the Fitzwilliam Hall, Park Road. The Hall began life in 1872 as a venue for entertainment, and later became known as “The Empire”. It was sited just north of the present Central Library. Applications for membership could be made on the opening day, but the first books were not actually issued until the following Thursday. Membership application was slow to begin with – apparently the opening of the library was not very well advertised in the local press.
The first librarian was Mr. L Stanley Jastrzebski, who later became President of the Library Association. The library contained two sections; one for adults and one for children. The Dewey system of classification was adopted from the onset for cataloguing the books. (Mr. Melvill Dewey was Director of New York State Library.)
This library was replaced in 1906 by a purpose-built library funded by the Scots-American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
Peterborough Standard, April 1893.
Peterborough Standard, August 1903.
Peterborough Standard, June 1906
Peterborough Advertiser, April 1893.
Peterborough Advertiser, June 1906.