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Opening Address at Kempston Library 22nd July 1960

Kempston > Libraries

Order of procedure:

  1. Introductory address by the Vice-Chairman of the Bedfordshire County Council.
  2. Alderman F. G. Simms, J. P., Chairman of the Bedfordshire Education Committee will open the Branch Library.
  3. Vote of thanks by Councillor J. V. Brown, Chairman of the Library Sub-Committee.
  4. The Revd. Henry John, M. B. E., B.A., Vicar of Kempston, will pronounce a blessing on the library.
  5. Inspection of the Branch Library


The development of the County Library Service in Kempston has been a process of progressive evolution to meet the growing demand for books for both recreation and information.

Older residents of Kempston will remember some of the difficulties and frustrations of the humble earlier stages. The first seed, without which no subsequent development would have been possible, was sown by Mr. H. J. Hooper, then Headmaster of Kempston Senior Mixed School. He zealously operated a voluntary library centre consisting of books in two high bookcases and a collection of boxes. Later a paid part-time Branch Librarian was introduced and a move was made to a little shop in Bunyan Road with a lean-to of galvinised iron never completely water-tight for long. The congestion here and the piles of borrowers' cycles across the narrow pavement in the "black-out", with some of the longest war-time queues in the county, made a formidable contrast with the amenities of the new Branch Library. A period of intense activity in a larger double-fronted shop in Bedford Road followed. The next Branch Library was adapted as temporary provision from an ex-army Hut purchased for £95 in 1949 with a remaining economic life then estimated at five years. It has had to last eleven years, and during that time much valued service has been given from it under difficult and crowded conditions.

During the year ending 31st March 1960, 67,772 books were borrowed or consulted and there are 3,273 registered borrowers using the branch regularly.

The new Branch Library in Halsey Road is the first of a series of County Library Branches now being erected for library purposes in Bedfordshire and not adapted from existing buildings. Consequently it is now possible to offer inducement to borrowers to read and study on these attractive premises with contemporary, comfortable furniture and equipment in a congenial atmosphere. The environment of the new Branch Library indicates that Libraries are places in which to make full use of books and not merely overcrowded places to take books away from.

The Library is approached from Halsey Road by a flagged forecourt with flower troughs and grassed areas. There is ample space for the parking of cars, and a covered shelter for perambulators and bicycles.

The single storey structure is of timber construction and provided with the essential natural lighting demanded for library purposes by means of roof lights and high windows above the bookcases. From all points of the interior, the pleasing open vista of Howard Park can be enjoyed.

The entrance hall contains a control desk from which a minimum staff can supervise the whole of the library facilities. A simple open plan makes use of all floor spaces without any corridors. Located around General Library are separate areas for Reading, Reference and Children.

At the earliest stages of the planning of the new Branch Councillor Mrs. P. F. Jones, the representative of Kempston on the County Council, strongly stressed the need for a roomy Children's Library sited near the staff enclosure so that help from the staff for the younger borrowers could be readily available, with arrangements for children to be encounraged to make best use of books in attractive surroundings. Careful attention has been devoted to this important requirement and the Reference Library has also been made large enought to give full opportunity to both children and adults. There is also a Book Store and Workroom, General Store, Staff Room, toilet facilities and a boiler room.

The low pressure hot water system is oil fired with heater units designed to harmonise with the fitments. Flourescent tubes are used for artificial lighting, and adjustable venetian blinds control the sunlight.

Particular attention has been given to the absorption of internal noise by the provision of rubber flooring and fibre wall panelling. All the fitments for books have been designed from a background of experience, and the colour scheme is restrained.

The Branch Library is open every week-day from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The same staff, already wellknown friends to many readers, will continue - Mr. H. M. Seex as Branch Librarian and Miss M. Hooper as Assistant.

Read by Alderman F. G. Simms, J.P., Chairman of the Bedfordshire Education Committee and Vice-Chairman of Bedfordshire County Council

Click here to see the cover of the programme from the opening ceremony.

Page last updated: 22nd July 2020