First up was Dr Oriel Prizeman from Cardiff University who has been investigating surviving Carnegie libraries, both in the UK and the USA, to see how they're being used today. Oriel gave us a fascinating insight into the similar design features of many of these libraries, which were built to reflect the environmental challenges of the time, and explained how she has been using laser scanning software to map the buildings in greater detail. As Lister Steps & The Old Library are one of the partners in her ongoing research project, we're looking forward to seeing how this work progresses over the next few years.
We then heard from Katie Taylor, one of our research volunteers, who told us about the impact of the public library movement on children, the kind of books they might have read in the early days of the Lister Drive Library and the strict rules that they had to follow!
Next up was Susan Bennett, another of our research volunteers, who has been looking into the history of the three local streets - Russian Drive, Kremlin Drive & Moscow Drive. This is a huge task which involves going back through each house to see who has lived there since the 1860s, generating a spreadsheet with over 4000 entries! It's shown us a really interesting picture of the diversity of our local neighbourhood through the years, the huge range of occupations & the varied lives people have lived right on the doorstep of the library.
A huge thank you to our speakers for putting so much time and effort into their presentations and giving up their evening to share their work with our community. It was a really enjoyable event and it was great to meet so many people who are interested in the history of the local area. With such a positive response, we're looking forward to putting on similar events when we're up and running in the library!