Edwards dreams of Alexandria: Library history in the service of public library activism


Our paper explores the relationship between Edward Edwards’s Memoirs of Libraries: Including a Handbook of Library Economy (1859) and 19th-century Britain’s Public Library Movement, especially the Public Library Acts of 1850 and 1855. Focusing on the instrumentalization of library history for the movement’s agenda, we show how Edwards projects the roots of this movement deep into antiquity and rhetorically creates a narrative of British deficiency set purposefully at odds with British patriotic and colonial sentiments, deriving from this vertical and horizontal comparison his arguments and advice for the establishment of municipal public libraries.

Jun 9, 2022 1:00 pm — 1:30 pm