The story of the Jersey Public Library

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This article by A S H Dickinson, librarian at the time, was first published in the 1937 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The interior of the Royal Square library

Rev Philip Falle

In the year 1850 when the first Public Libraries Act was passed in England, the little island of Jersey had already been in possession of a public library of its own for 114 years. This fact does not indicate any overwhelming passion for knowledge on the part of the 18th century Jerseyman; the credit is wholly due to one man, a real benefactor of his country, the Rev Philip Falle, of whom it may be justly said, in a paraphrase of the old Tory epigram on George the Second's gift of books to Cambridge University :

"To Jersey books he sent, full well discerning
How much that lovely island wanted learning."

Philip Falle, Jersey's Thomas Bodley, was born in the parish of St Saviour in 1656. He was educated in England, and entered Exeter College, Oxford, at the age of 14, taking his MA degree six years later.

In 1681 he took Holy Orders, and returning to Jersey was appointed Rector of the Parish of Trinity. As the stipend was then only £40 per annum, it was fortunate that the future historian also enjoyed a small property inherited from his father. After spending six years at Trinity Rectory, Falle was appointed tutor to the only son of Lord Jermyn, then Governor of Jersey, and accompanied his pupil to England, where he remained for two years. On his return to his native island, he was appointed Rector of the Parish of St. Saviour.

On 3 February 1693 he was sent by the States, together with Nicholas Durell, Avocat du Roi, to lay before King William III a petition said to have been drawn up by Falle himself, in which His Majesty's attention was drawn to "the mischief and danger threatening your realms should the French become masters of Jersey and the adjoining isles", and it was urged that the Channel Islands should be put into a better state of defence.

During his incumbency of St Saviour, Falle was engaged on his great work on the history of his native island, which was first published in 1694 under the title of "An account of the Island of Jersey, the greatest of those islands that are now the only remainder of the English dominions in France, with a new and accurate map of the Island."

It was largely based on the manuscript of Jean Poingdestre, Lieut-Bailiff of Jersey from 1668 to 1676, entitled "Caesarea, a discourse on the Island of Jersey", which has been edited by W Nicolle, and published by the Société Jersiaise in 1889.

A painting of Philip Falle

King's Chaplain

In the same year which saw the publication of his masterpiece, Falle was appcinted Chaplain to King William III, in which capacity he delivered a funeral oration over Queen Mary, who died in December 1694.

In January 1700 he became a Prebendary of Durham Cathedral; and in 1709 he resigned the Rectorship of St Saviour, having been appointed to the comfortable living of Shenley near Barnet, where he remained for the rest of his long life, devoting himself to the preparation of a revised and enlarged edition of his history, which was published in 1734 under the title of "Caesarea, or an Account of the Island of Jersey .. to which are added remarks on .. Selden's Mare Clausum by Philip Morant" (Mourant).

A third edition with the title of "Caesarea, or an Account of Jersey, the Greatest of the islands round the Coast of England, or the Ancient duchy of Normandy. Began (sic) by Philip Falle, continued by Philip Morant", appeared in 1797. A fourth edition was published in 1837, with notes and illustrations by the Rev Edward Durell, Rector of St Saviour.

During this period Faile also wrote an article on the Channel Islands, which appeared in Bishop Gibson's translation of Camden's Britannia, 1722.

He died at Shenley in 1742, in the 87th year of his age. In his scholarly retreat the old historian's thoughts turned frequently to his native island, whose level of culture and education was, owing to its isolated position, distinctly low even by the standard of small communities in the early 18th century.

In the course of a long and studious life he had acquired an excellent library of over 2,000 volumes; he was growing old, and being a bachelor, had no descendants to inherit the collection. He therefore decided that he could not do better than put his beloved books at the disposal of his fellow-countrymen, in the hope that their possession might in some measure compensate for the disadvantage of their geogra¬phical position.

In the second (1734) edition of the History occurs the following passage:

"Nothing is more wanted in this Island than a Public Library, the place being out of all commerce of the Learned World, and the Clergy, through the meanness of their income, under a disability of laying out much Money upon Books. And such a Library should not (I think) be solely appropriated to the Clergy, but free and open to the better sort at least of the Laity, and be furnished accordingly. Reading would give our Gentlemen juster Notions of Things, enlarge their minds, and render them more useful and serviceable to their Country. There is already some advance made towards this, by the Promise of more than Two Thousand Volumes in most kinds of good Literature, the execution of which Promise is only suspended till a convenient place can be provided for the reception of the Books."

The difficulty mentioned in the last paragraph was overcome by the donor's further generosity in presenting to the States of Jersey the sum of £300 sterling for the purpose of erecting a suitable building.

An Acte des Etats dated I7 February I736, accepted this generous offer, and selected for the site of the new Library a piece of ground, 800 feet square, ceded by the parish of St Helier, adjoining the old Rectory.

The Library in 1859

Foundation stone

The foundation stone was laid in July I737, but the building was not completed till nearly six years later.

The old gentleman's knowledge of his fellow-countrymen evidently led him to fear that their native caution and canniness might induce the States to look a gift horse in the mouth, and in a letter dated 16 October 1741, to Philip Le Geyt, the Lieut-Bailiff, he adds to his former benefactions the further offer of £200 for the purchase of Rentes, the income derived therefrom to be used for the upkeep of the library building.

The letter ends with the following words:

"I have but one thing more to trouble you with, that either by causing this Letter to be read in the States, or in some other way you judge proper, you will please to acquaint the Constables with the premisses, whereby to make those Gentle¬men easy and cure them of the fears and jealousies some of them have conceived lest the Library for want of a lasting settlement for its support should become a charge to their respective Parishes."

Unfortunately, Falle died before he could give effect to his beneficent intention, but his nephew Jean Aubin generously undertook to carry out his uncle's wishes, and in his own name and that of his sister Judith presented the sum of £200 to the States.

Rentes were not purchased, but the money was invested in the island until 1766, when Thomas Durell was authorised to purchase English Consolidated 3% Annuities in his own name for the benefit of the library. In I814, the sum, now amounting to £350, was repaid by the Bank of England, and invested by the States in Rentes Publiques, according to the original desire of the founder of the library.

M Aubin also supplied the new library at his own expense with shelving all round the walls, sufficient to accommodate some 3,000 volumes. The original building consisted of two stories, the library being housed on the first floor, reached by a broad staircase from the street, with an entrance hall and quarters for the librarian on the ground floor.

The States committee which had been appointed to supervise the erection of the library building, reported on 2 November 1743 that the work was complete, and were instructed to draw up a set of regulations for the administration of the library. This task took them nearly five years, but on 28 October 1748 their report was at last laid before the States.

Library06JEP.jpg

Library rules

The main points in the rules now adopted for the library were as follows;

  • The Library to be open to all on payment of an entrance fee of 40 sous d'Ordre (3 francs) and an annual subscription of the same amount; these subscrip¬tions to form the salary of the Librarian, who would also have free lodging in the library building; the Librarian must take an oath that he would take proper care of the books, and observe the regulations; he must allow no book to be borrowed, or removed from the library on any pretext whatever, on pain of a fine of 40 francs, half to go to the informer, and half to the library; the librarian to be also responsible for replacing any book found to be missing;
  • The library to be opened every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am to noon, and from 3 to 6 pm in the summer, and from 9 am to noon, and from 2 to 4 pm in the winter
  • A register to be kept of the names of all persons having the right to use the library
  • A full and accurate catalogue to be provided for the use of the public
  • The librarian must not allow any smoking or drinking in the library, nor must there be any fire, in foot-warmers or otherwise, on pain of a fine of 20 crowns ; any person damaging or defacing any book to pay a fine of 10 francs, and replace the book if necessary
  • All books to be returned to their proper places on the shelves, or handed to the librarian, on pain of a fine of 5 sous, to go to the librarian
  • The library to be inspected once every year in the last week in June, or the first week in July, by a States Committee, who would be authorised to expend any monies accruing from the above-mentioned fines on the purchase of new books.

The first librarian to be appointed to this responsible, and not very lucrative, post was Jean Baptiste de Chateauneuf, who was voted the sum of £12 in recognition of previous services, probably in arranging the books on their shelves, and for certain out-of-pocket expenses ; he had, however, to wait for nearly two years before receiving this sum. In 1752 he was voted a regular salary of 50 livres d'argent per annum.

It does not appear that the Library in its early years did very much to fulfil the aspirations of its pious founder by adding to the learning and culture of "the Clergy and the better sort of the Laity",for very little interest seems to have been taken in it. Readers were few and far between, and in 1800 the Committee decided to raise the subscription to 6 francs, which remained in force until the subscription was abolished altogether in 1874.

As there were few readers, few fines could be levied, consequently no money was available for the purchase of new books, and hardly any additions were made before 1800, in which year the Rev Dr David Dumaresq, who was at that time Rector of Yeovil in Somerset, presented to the library about 1,000 volumes, mostly of theology.

Dr Dumaresq, who had a more varied career than the majority of 18th century country parsons, came of an old Jersey family; he was born in the parish of Trinity in 1712, and was educated at the School of St Mannelier in Jersey, and at Pembroke College, Oxford, becoming a Fellow of Exeter in 1740. He was for a time Chaplain to the British Embassy of St. Petersburg and was afterwards commissioned by Stanislaus, King of Poland, to supervise the establishment of schools throughout his kingdom, a task which he seems to have carried out with much ability. He died at Bath in 1805, in his 94th year.

It is unfortunate that the library possesses no portrait of its second benefactor, except for a small steel engraving. Of the founder there are two, of which one was painted in 1737 at the expense of the States, to be hung in the new library; it now hangs over the fireplace in the main reading-room of the present building; the other, painted in 1733, was bought in 1884 for £17, and is now in the Librarian's Room. The States also caused to be set up on the wall of the original library a marble slab, bearing the following inscription, composed by the founder himself :

Anno MDCCXXXVI

In Dei Optimi Maximi gloriam, Religionis, bonarumque Literarum adjumentum:

HOC MUSAEUM, propriis Sumptibus extruxit,

et Librorum in plerique Facultatibus haud curta suppellectile locuplevit PHILIPPUS FALLE

pene Octogenarius,

hujus Insulae Indigena, Canonnicus Dunelmensis,

Olim etiam serenissimo Regi

GULIELMO IIIo a Sacris.

In the year 1736 to the glory of God, most good, most great, to the advancement of Religion and good literature :

This Library was at his own expense built and furnished with no inadequate store of books in most branches oflearning by Philip Falle, being in his Both year, a native of this Island, a Canon of Durham, and formerly a Chaplain to

His Most Serene Majesty King William III


This slab is now to be seen on the wall of the main staircase in the present library.


An architect's drawing of the old library building

John Wesley's praise

Although the Library in its infancy was not highly valued by its owners, it received the approbation of John Wesley when he visited the Island in 1787, and he afterwards presented to it a copy of his own concise Ecclesiastical History in four volumes, published in the same year. Adam Clarke, another celebrated non-conformist preacher and theologian, who visited the Island in 1786, also spent much time at the Library, as is shown by the following extract from the " Life and Labours of Adam Clarke:"

"These profound studies were much hindered by the scantiness of his library, except when he was in Jersey, where there was a public library, which contained, besides other excellent works, a copy of Walton's Polyglott. A perusal of the Prolegomena led him to acquire some knowledge of the Syriac and Chaldee and when to these he had added a knowledge of the Samaritan alphabet, he was able to collate the original texts in the Polyglott, in the Hebrew Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, and Septua¬gint .... but as he had not always the opportunity of resorting to the St Helier's library, he began earnestly to covet the possession of a copy of the Polyglott."

During the French Revolution, the many French emigres who took refuge in Jersey thought highly of the library, and were regular frequenters, but it continued to be neglected by most of those for whose benefit it had been founded. As new books were hardly ever added to the collection, such public interest as there was tended to diminish.

The Committee were not insensible of this fact, and in 1832 Francis Godefroy, Constable of St Helier, persuaded the States to vote an annual grant of £100 for the purchase of new books in modem languages, but this was only a flash in the pan; few books were bought and the grant soon lapsed.

In 1845 the Library Committee requested the States to renew the grant, but without success.

On the whole it is not surprising that an American magazine of about 1850 in an article on Jersey describes the Public Library as "the dustiest, mustiest collection of ancient and decaying tomes that ever delighted the eyes and nostrils of the book worm!"

The only step taken during this period to popularise the library was the com¬mittee's decision in 1845 that it should be opened every day from 10 am to 4 pm instead of only three times a week as heretofore; these hours remained in force until 1890, when they were extended to 10 am to 5 pm and 6.30 to 9 pm. At the present time the library is open every day except Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm, and on Sundays from 3 to 9 pm.

In the first half of the 19th century almost the only acquisition of note consisted of 64 volumes of the Record Commission's publications, but in 1869 Mr Abraham Jones Le Cras bequeathed to the library a number of books and pamphlets relating to the Channel Islands, which laid the foundation of the present comprehensive local collection.

A letter published in the British Press in September 1873, over the nom-de-plume of "visitor" complained that no one ever used the Public Library, that the books were going to rack and ruin, and finally suggested that the institution should be handed over to Victoria College, or some other educational establishment, which might be expected to look after the books properly, and perhaps even make some use of them.

State papers

In 1882 the Committee decided to take advantage of an offer made by the Public Record Office to present 50 volumes of their publications free to any library or public body which undertook to purchase all the new volumes published by them over a number of years; hence the large collection of State Papers, and other transcripts and Calendars from the Public Archives now in the library, many of which are a mine of information concerning the early history of Jersey and the Channel Islands.

In the same year a number of volumes, mostly of classical texts, were presented by the Cambridge University Press, and about this time the States at last voted an annual grant, though only of £20, for the purchase of new books.

In spite of these acquisi¬tions, the number of books in the library had only increased from 3,000 in 1800 to about 6,000 in 1880. Even so, it was found that the number was becoming too large to be conveniently housed in the original building. The first attempt to cope with the problem was to provide deeper shelves, so as to allow two rows to be placed on each shelf, one behind the other.

As this meant that the back row was for all practical purposes entirely lost, it can hardly be described as a brilliant solution of the difficulty, and the States had to begin seriously considering the provision of a larger and more up-to-date building.

An interesting side-light on the administration of the Library at this period is provided by a case tried before the Royal Court on1 March, 1883, when two men, father and son, were sentenced to 12 and 18 months hard labour respectively for stealing books from the Public Library.

The thefts seem to have been continued over a period of several years before the loss was noticed; then the discovery of a number of volumes bearing the library stamp offered for sale in a shop in York Street led to an investigation and about 90 more volumes belonging to the library were found quite openly displayed on bookshelves at the house of the accused.

The titles of the works mentioned in the report on the case suggest that they were of but small literary interest and less commer¬cial value; the thefts would seem to have been the result of a magpie-like instinct to annex any object left unguarded. That the possessions of the Public Library were not at this time very well guarded is shown by the fact that the librarian admitted in evidence that he was absent from his post "on business" for the greater part of the day, and did not exercise any supervision over the readers in the library.

The books were kept locked up in glass-fronted cases, but the keys were left on the tables for the use of readers. As the library was in those days but little frequented, the thief must often have found himself alone in the reading-room with the whole collection at his mercy. In the circumstances it seems surprising that any books were left on the shelves at all!

However, the case at least served to draw attention to an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and from now on more efficient supervision was provided.

Possibly as a thank-offering for these miscreants having been brought to justice, the Rector of Grouville in 1885 transferred his pew in St Helier's Church to the use of the librarian. It is not on record how often the pew has since been occupied.

A more practical benefaction was made to the library in the same year when A Le Sueur bequeathed the sum of £150 for the purchase of new books. Unfortunately only £8 had been expended, when the balance was swallowed up in the failure of the Jersey Banking Company.

However, the States generously decided to make up the sum themselves, and about 400 new books were bought; this was the most important addition made to the library since Dumaresq's benefaction in 1800.

The interior of the new library, overlooked by Philip Falle's portrait

New building

The question of a new building had been raised in the States as early as 1877, but it was not until seven years later that a definite decision was made.

A site west of the Royal Court was selected and the work entrusted to Messrs Ancell and Orange. Two years later the work was complete, and the committee took possession on 17 July 1886; the books were transferred to their new home, and the building was formally opened to the public on 1 December 1886, a red-letter day in the history of the library.

The old building, was for many years used as the office of the States Treasurer, and is now occupied by the States Social Assurance Committee, but the memory of its original function is perpetuated in the name of the street in which it stands, Library Place.

The new library is not in all ways up to modem standards of convenience and efficiency, and its exterior appearance is not perhaps very impressive, but the beauty and dignity of its interior architecture reflect great credit on its designers.

The ground floor is occupied by committee rooms and States Offices, the library itself being housed on the first floor, reached by a wide and handsome stairway from the Royal Square, and surmounted by a gallery running round three sides of the room, the fourth being filled by a large glass double door and window, opening on to a small balcony overlooking the Royal Square.

The main reading room, with accommodation for 28 readers, is surmounted by a noble dome, supported by three arches, and filled with stained glass, round the base of which are inscribed the names of Falle, Wace (the Anglo-Norman Jersey poet, author of the Roman de Rou, and of the Roman de Brut), Le Quesne (author of the Constitutional History of Jersey), and Durell (the poet, and editor of Falle's History).

The painted decoration between the arches includes four panels bearing the names of Shakespeare, Goethe, Dante and Moliere. The present librarian was once severely taken to task by an indignant lady who considered French literature would have been more worthily represented by Voltaire.

The great height of the dome helps to give the library something of the atmosphere of scholarly calm to be found under the great dome of the Reading Room at the British Museum.

The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with permanent adjustable shelving, a defect from the point of view of modem library design, as it necessitates the frequent use of the step-ladder and makes it difficult to arrange the books in strictly classified order, without disregarding the rule that the books most frequently required should also be the most easily accessible.

The original ban on footwarmers, etc. was violated by the provision of a stove, but it was not until central heating was installed in 1933 that readers were assured of real comfort in wintry weather. Electric light was installed throughout the building in 1927.

Museum pieces

At this point, before proceeding to more recent developments it may be as well to give a brief account of some of the volumes of bibliographical interest to be found in the library. These "museum pieces" include two medieval manuscripts, both dating from the middle of the 14th century. One of these, which was among the founder's own books, is a copy of the Vulgate written on vellum in a minute but clear "book-hand", no doubt produced in the Scriptorium of some French or English Abbey.

It has beautifully decorated capitals and border ornaments in red and blue, and opens with a more elaborate initial in four colours, blue, yellow, green and brown. The binding is old calf, blind-tooled, but the back has been repaired.

The second manuscript is a more sumptuous affair; a French copy of the popular mediaeval allegorical poem known as Le Roman de la Rose, by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. This is also written on vellum, in black and red lettering, the capitals being richly illuminated in pink, blue and gold; it is illustrated with 20 fascinating miniatures, most delicately drawn, and blazing with scarlets, pinks, blues, greens and yellows, besides much gold-leaf in the backgrounds and borders.

Two of the minia¬tures have been defaced, but in the others the colours are as brilliant and the gold as lustrous as if they had been laid on last week instead of 600 years ago. Like the other it is bound in old calf, with a modem back, This manuscript has quite a romantic history; it was presented to the library about 40 years ago, having, it is said, been found accidentally during the clearing out of an old barn.

Turning from manuscripts to early printed books, the library possesses 12 specimens of "incunabula", "swaddling-clothes" from the infancy of the typo¬graphical art. For the sake of convenience this title is confined to books printed before the year 1500, though in many countries the "swaddling-clothes" period really lasted much longer; in England, for example, books with all the characteristic features of incunabula continued to be produced at least as late as 1540.

The interior of the Royal Square library

1475 volumes

The earliest specimens of the printed book possessed by the library are three works dated 1475, the year before Caxton first set up his press in London.

These are:

  • A very fine copy of Saint Augustine's De Civitate Dei, printed at Venice by Gabriele Petri in the semi-gothic type known as "fere-humanistica" (half¬civilized); it is a small folio, printed in two columns, spaces being left with printed guide letters for the capitals to be added by hand by the "rubrisher" as was then the custom; in this copy they have been supplied in blue and red alternately; the binding is calf, probably contemporary, stamped with blind panels showing the pelican" in her piety"; the back has been restored.
  • ‘’Casus longi super quinque libros decretalium’’, by Bernard of Parma, a mediae¬val Italian lawyer. This book has no imprint or colophon, but appears to have been printed at Paris in 1475, probably by Petrus Cesaris and Joannes Stoll; folio; the Capitals are supplied by hand in red and blue alternately, with large capitals at the beginning of each book in blue and red; it is bound in original wooden boards, but the leather back has disappeared.
  • A folio copy of the ‘’Vitae et sententiae Philosophorum of Diogenes Laertius’’, printed at Venice by Nicolas Jenson, one of the greatest of the early printers, in the beautiful roman type, designed by himself; this was the first of all roman types, and has never been surpassed. Spaces with guide letters are as usual left for the capitals, but in this case the rubrisher has not done his part; the book is bound in quarter vellum, with paper boards.
  • “Rudimenta Grammatices “ of Nicolas Peroti, Archbishop of Seponto, printed at Venice by Gabriele Petri in I476; folio, the spaces left for capitals are again not filled in; bound in vellum.
  • A fine copy of Ovid's ‘’Metamorphoses’’, printed by Herman Levilapis, or Lichten¬stein, of Vicentia in I480; folio; capitals supplied in blue with two beautifully illuminated initials and border ornaments in pink, blue, green and gold; bound in old calf, blind-tooled.
  • The ‘’Consolation Philosophica’’ of Boethius, quarto, printed at Florence by John of Platea, probably in I487; illustrated with wood cuts; old calf, blind-tooled.
  • Another copy of the “De Civitate Dei” of Saint Augustine; folio, printed at Venice by Octavian Scott in I488 ; the fly-leaf bears the signature" Joannis Comt de Coibaln et arnicorum "; bound in vellum.
  • “Sermones Quadragesimales” by Robert Caracciolus of Licio; quarto, printed at Venice in I488 by Andrea de Asula, father-in-law, and afterwards partner of the famous scholar-printer, Aldus Manutius; spaces left for capitals, but the first only has been supplied in black and red; white pigskin binding (English, 16th century), blind¬stamped with roses and fleurs-de-lys : inside the front cover is the inscription : " Monasterium Althominster, I542." * A small octavo edition of the” De triplici vita” of Marsilio Ficino, printed in I488 at the Ager Caregius, a palace near Florence, belonging to Lorenzo the Magnificent; spaces left for capitals, but not filled in; on the verso of the last leaf occurs a curious prescription for" a very good suffumygation," written in the crabbed "court-hand" of the 15th century: "take the parynge of the hoffe of a moyle (? mule), ffranckincense, & firre tree, and so applie a warme redde or scarlett cloth 4 or fyve times, and by godde he shal be whoale."
  • The “Supplementum Chronicarum” of Jacob Philip Burgomensis, (folio), printed at Venice in I490, by Bernard Rizus ; Gothic, or "black-letter" type, with wood-cut capitals and 54 wood-cuts in the text ; the binding is modern.
  • A folio history of Venice, “De Origine Urbis Venetiarum”, written by Bernard Justin, a Venetian Senator; printed at Venice by Bernardinus Benalius in I492; this volume also contains speeches and letters of Bernard and Leonard Justin, printed in I494; spaces left for capitals, but not filled in ; bound in vellum.
  • A folio edition of the complete works of Angelo Politian, the 15th century Florentine scholar and poet, printed at Venice by Aldus Manutius in I498; spaces left for capitals not filled in; bound in white pigskin, richly blind-stamped; this is a very early specimen of the work of the Aldine Press, and does not bear the familiar device of the anchor and dolphin.
  • Another early "Aldine", which, though printed after 1500, has all the charac¬teristics of an "incunable" is a copy of a work entitled “De octo partibus orationis, etc”, by Constantine Lascaris of Byzantium, a Greek grammarian; quarto, printed in 1512 ; the binding, which is still in good condition, consists of wooden boards with metal clasps, backed with white pigskin, blind-tooled.

Eicon Basilice

Other early books which stand out from the wilderness of 18nth century theology and sermons which slumber in peaceful oblivion on obscure shelves, include an early issue, dated 1648, of the “Eicon Basilice”, that brilliant exposition of Charles I's religious and political principles, which on its publication immediately after the King's execution, did much to tum popular feeling against the regicides.

Long regarded as the work of the Royal Martyr himself, it was probably written by Bishop John Gauden. The date on the title-page is of interest; Charles I, as every schoolboy knows (if I may be permitted to indulge in that wildly optimistic cliche) was beheaded on 30 January 1649.

The Eicon Basilice was published after the execution; yet several issues were dated 1648. The reason is, of course, that the revised calendar had but recently come into use, and the old style of dating, which made the new year begin on 25 March, lingered on for many years alongside the new.

A few others worthy of mention are:

  • A copy of Gerarde's Herball, or general history of plants, the most popular of all the old herbals, with its fascinating illustrations, in the edition of 1633, enlarged by Thomas Johnson;
  • A French translation of the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, with many quaint woodcuts, some coloured by hand; (folio), printed in Paris in 1543.
  • A black-letter quarto edition of Bishop Hugh Latimer's Sermons, printed in 1607, rather late for "Gothic" type.
  • A copy of the works of St. John Chrysostom printed at Eton in 1612, with two leaves of a beautifully illuminated rach century missal pasted inside the covers to strengthen the binding; a fine hand-coloured atlas of Germany by Gerard Mercator, the great cartographer, and inventor of" Mercator's projection" ; this includes a map of Normandy and Brittany, showing the Channel Islands; an octavo edition of More's Utopia in Latin, published at Basle in 1543 ; a fine French black-letter Bible (folio, 1534) with many quaint hand-coloured woodcuts, recently presented to the library by the Rev. T. H. Labey, Rector of St. Clement; a first edition, folio in 6 volumes, of the great Polyglott Bible of 1657, edited by Bishop Walton; the great monument of English oriental scholarship in the roth century, which as mentioned above proved so useful to Adam Clarke; William Pison's De Indiae utriusque re naturali et medica, an Elzevir folio of 1658, with amusing illustrations; the first edition (folio) of Anthony a Wood's Historia et Antiquitates Universitatiae Oxoniensis, printed at the Sheldonian Theatre in 1674 ; the second edition (folio, 172 I) of the same author's Athenae Oxonienses, a history of all the Bishops and writers educated at Oxford between I500 and I695; Diderot and D'Alembert's great Encyclopedie, ou Dictionnaire raisonne des Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers (folio, 35 volumes, I75I- 1780), the greatest achievement of French r Sth century rationalism, which did much to disseminate the ideas which produced the French Revolution; Hugh Broughton's " A Concent of Scripture," a small quarto printed in I596, with seven copper-plates engraved by W. Roger, which are probably the earliest ever produced in England. Some books which owe their interest to extraneous circumstances, such as binding or ownership, include the following: Leo Allatius De libris ecclesiasticis Graecorum, I645, bound in calf stamped in gold with fieurs-de-lys, and the arms of Louis the Fourteenth;
  • Thesaurus politicorum aphorismorum, by John A. Chokier, bound in calf stamped with the arms of John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, I62I-I64I, and Archbishop of York, I64I-I650; a duodecimo edition of Justin's " History" bound in red morocco, stamped with the arms of Admiral Philip D' Auvergne, the Jerseyman who became Due de Bouillon, and whose romantic career suggested the character of Philip d'Avranches in Gilbert Parker's" The Battle of the Strong."
  • De diversis ministrorum Evangelii gradibus, by Hadrian Saravia, I590, bound in vellum, stamped with the arms of Elizabeth's great minister, William Cecil, Lord Burleigh.
  • Scogli del Christiano naufragio, I6I8; vellum, stamped with the arms of Anne of Denmark, consort of King James the First of England. Most of these works are now to be seen in a special show case in the gallery.
Library01.jpg

Collection grows

To return to the history of the library following its removal to the present building in I886, the greater interest now taken in the institution is shown by the fact that whereas the number of books transferred from the old building to the new was 6,I88, this figure had risen eight years later, when Dr Barreau's catalogue was published, to over I8,000.

Although a fairly representative collection of standard fiction was added during this period, the library continued to be one for reference only, intended mainly for scholars and research workers, with little to attract the general public before I927, when two newspaper stands were placed in the entrance lobby, making available the two chieflocal papers and three London dailies; at the same time a number of periodi¬cals of a more or less popular nature wers subscribed to and placed on the tables in the reading-room.

An important development took place in I93I, when, on 20 September, the Junior Library in Dumaresq Street was opened by the late Jurat R Maler de Carteret, then President of the Public Instruction Committee.

This library had been started on voluntary lines in I9I2 by the Rev Edward Moor, Vicar of St. Mark's Church, now a Canon of Winchester, and was administered by a Committee appointed by the Decanal Conference, presided over by the Dean of Jersey.

The Jersey Church Schools Society granted the use of one room over their bookshop in Waterloo Street, which continued to be the headquarters of the library until it was taken over by the States in 1930. Several Societies made small grants for the purchase of books, and an appeal was made to Church people in the Island for subscriptions or gifts of books. Boxes of books were sent to the elementary schools three times a year.

From 1913 to 1920 the Hon Secretary was Miss Julia Marett, who had already done much work in organizing the library; she was succeeded by Mrs Hartnell and Miss Priestley, the latter of whom still acts as Hon Librarian.

In October 1930 the States decided to take over this library as the Junior Section of the Public Library, with a grant of £150 for the first year; the Carnegie Trustees also gave two grants of £100 spread over a period of four years.

The new premises in Dumaresq Street allowed the provision of a lending and reference library and a commodious reading room, and the usefulness of the library has steadily increased.

In 1936 over 16,000 books were issued to borrowers from the lending library, and 95 boxes are now sent out twice a year to the elementary schools. The accommodation and equipment have been greatly improved by recent alterations.

The children show a keen interest in the library, and the reference library and reading-room are used by steadily increasing numbers yearly.

Extra rooms

In 1933, when the new States' Offices were added on the west of the Public Library, two new rooms became available on the gallery floor, one of which is now used as a Students' Room, where research work may be done in quiet and seclusion, while in the other are shelved the files of all the local newspapers, reaching back in some cases, though not unfortunately in unbroken sequence, to the middle of the eighteenth century.

At the beginning of 1934 a complete reorganization of the library was undertaken, with the idea of bringing it more into line with modem developments of the public library service in England, while retaining as far as possible its old traditions and scholarly atmosphere.

It was realized that Jersey stood much in need of a public lending library service, by means of which books could be borrowed for home reading, but this was impossible under the original code of rules for the library adopted by the States in 1748, for these rules, as mentioned above, strictly prohibited the removal of any book from the library on any pretext whatever.

Accordingly a library sub-committee was appointed to draw up a set of rules regulating the conditions on which books might be borrowed from the library, and to draft an amendment to the original Act, to be laid before the States for their approval.

In May 1934 the amendment was passed by the States, not without opposition, and on the loth July following the lending department was opened to the public.

The only formality necessary to become a registered borrower is to fill in an application form, which includes a guarantee to be signed by a ratepayer resident in the Island; this is submitted to a sub-Committee for approval, and about three days after the receipt of the completed application the prospective borrower receives a ticket entitling him to take out one volume at a time from those available in the lending department.

The time allowed for reading a book is 15 days, but this may be renewed on request, if the book has not been reserved by another borrower.

The Royal Square library building

Lending system

A card-changing method of issuing books has been adopted, the system being briefly as follows :

Each book is provided with a card showing author, title and class, together with a clue number, which, while the book remains on the shelves is kept in a small manilla pocket pasted inside the front cover; when the book is borrowed this card is removed, and placed in the borrower's ticket, which is provided with a special pocket for the purpose, and filed in a charging tray behind a date-guide, showing the date on which the book is due for return; the date is stamped on a label pasted in the book, which also shows the clue number; when the book is returned its card may readily be found in the tray by reference to clue number and date.

The opening of the lending department involved a complete re-arrangement of the books on the main floor.

The department now contains over four thousand volumes, of which between four and five hundred are usually out on loan at anyone time.

The reference library consists of a selection of about 2,800 standard works on all subjects, classified as in the lending library; encyclopaedias, dictionaries and atlases in separate sequences; 250 volumes of the "Rolls Series", or, to give it its full title, "Chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Age"; about 560 volumes of Archives, etc issued by the Public Record Office; a collection of works in French, consisting of over 900 volumes; and a local collection of more than 300 books and pamphlets, which aims at providing all available literature dealing with Jersey, together with a representative selection of works on the other Channe Islands.

Among the more important items included in the local collection are the four editions of Philip Palle's own "History of Jersey"; of the first (1694) edition the library possesses two copies, one of which, recently presented by Lord Portsea, contains an autographed letter from the late Rudyard Kipling, thanking Lord Portsea for the loan of the book.

Other works of local interest include Peter Heylin's " Survey of the Estate of France," 1656, the sixth book of which contains" A Survey of the Estate of the two islands of Guernzey and Jarsey, with the isles appending;" two copies of a curious poem entitled: "Mont Orgueil, or Divine and profitable meditations raised from the contemplation of these three leaves of Nature's volume, I. Rockes, 2. Seas, 3. Gardens," by the Puritan, William-Prynne,_ written in 1641, while he was a prisoner in Mont Orgueil Castle;

A copy of a German grammar, once the property of Major Peirson, and containing two specimens of the hero's autograph; the original Ms of Philip Le Geyt, Lieutenant-Bailiff of Jersey in the first half of the 18th century, on the " Constitution, Laws and Usages of Jersey", in three volumes; an original Ms of Jean Poingdestre, a Lieutenant-Bailiff of the 17th century, on "Canon Law in Jersey" ; and finally, a Ms dated 1665, entitled "Recueil des privileges tenus par justiciers itinerants; ordres des Commissairs Royaux; lettres des Seigneurs du Conseil, et autres, concernant Ie gouvernement de l'Isle de Jersey."

New catalogue

The reorganisation of the library entailed the preparation of a new catalogue.

The earliest catalogue of the library is the Ms list in Falle's own handwriting, which accompanied his original donation, and is still preserved in the Library, another catalogue is mentioned in an Act of the Library Committee dated 23 June 1792, as having been prepared by one Philip Le Montays; a third was compiled in I832 by J de la Croix, and a fourth, described as very incomplete and inaccurate, was under¬taken by two Polish exiles resident in Jersey. All these have since disappeared.

In 1890 an excellent printed catalogue compiled by Dr Barreau was published by the States, with a very interesting introduction by William Nicolle, to which the present writer is greatly indebted for information on the early history of the library. An abridged classification based on this catalogue was published in 1904, the work of F B.de Faye, the then librarian.

An attempt was made to keep the catalogue up to date in four massive manuscript volumes, but the methods employed were somewhat old-fashioned and the catalogue was rapidly becoming obsolete.

A card catalogue on modem lines was urgently required, and this was now taken in hand.

The new catalogue is in "dictionary" form, showing authors and subjects in one alphabetical sequence, with full cross-references, and now contains entries for nearly 12,000 volumes, including all the works in the lending department and reference library on the main floor, and also about 2,000 volumes shelved in the new students' room on the gallery floor.

At first, in view of the opposition in the States, the Committee decided that no fiction should be issued from the lending department, but in April 1935 the ban was lifted, and since then a certain amount of good class modern fiction has been added, but it is not regarded as part of the library's policy, even if income and shelf room permitted, to provide the kind of fiction which a distinguished librarian has designated the "Shorts and Mercies"; that is the sensational thrillers and sentimental romances which in some public libraries are bought cheap in bulk, and soon becoming worn out after a "short and merry" existence, are discarded and seen no more.

The present year of grace has a double interest with regard to the history of the library, as being both the bi-centenary of its foundation, and the jubilee of the opening of the present building.

The Committee therefore determined to mark the occasion by a further extension of the library services.

The gallery floor had hitherto been unused, except for the storage of old and little-used books, and it was decided to utilize the space for the provision of newspapers and magazines on a more generous scale.

Newspaper stand

An extraordinary grant having been obtained from the States, stands to hold eleven newspapers were arranged along the two inner sides of the gallery; two magazine racks, a stand for holiday guides, railway time-tables, etc. and reading tables capable of accommodating twelve persons were provided, together with a desk for the librarian on duty; one of the two newspaper stands in the lobby was transferred to the gallery, to allow access thereto without the necessity of passing through the main reading-room, and thick rubber flooring was put down, to prevent the sound of footsteps in the gallery disturbing the readers downstairs.

This extension allows for the provision of eleven English dailies and two Sunday papers, three local dailies and three weeklies, and about eighty periodicals and magazines of all kinds, including the leading organs of all the principal religious bodies.

The gallery was formally opened to the public on 10 May 1936 by the Bailiff of Jersey, in the presence of the Lieut-Governor and a fairly representative gathering, and has proved extremely popular, the number of persons daily using the library having almost doubled since its opening.

The lending department had already established itself firmly in popular favour by the end of 1934, when, six months after the opening, the names of 475 borrowers had been entered on the register, and 2,893 books had been issued; by the end of 1935 there were 985 registered borrowers, and over 10,000 books were issued during the year; at the present moment (December 1936) the number of registered borrowers is over 1,500, and issues for the year already approach 14,000.

The number of readers, as apart from borrowers, using the library rose from about 18,000 in 1933 to over 28,000 in 1935; and this year, thanks to the developments described above, the total should approach the neighbourhood of 40,000. These figures suggest that the Public Library is no longer a mausoleum of dead and moribund books, but a living institution and a real cultural asset in the life of the community.

Thanks to a regular and generous annual grant from the States, between seven and eight hundred new books, the life-blood of a library, are added yearly. An enthusiastic visitor recently expressed the opinion that the Jersey Public Library was the best in the world. He may have exaggerated slightly; we do not claim equality with the British Museum, the Bodleian, the Bibliotheque Nationale, or even with the London Library, or the John Rylands; but we do aim at providing in Jersey a library service at least equal to that at the disposal of any community of approximately similar size.

We are not there yet, but we are on the way.

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