Public libraries have strangely never been the subject of an extensive design history. Consequently, this important and comprehensive book represents a ground-breaking socio-architectural study of pre-1939 public library buildings. A surprisingly high proportion of these urban civic buildings remain intact and present an increasingly difficult architectural problem for many communities. The book thus includes a study of what is happening to these historic libraries now and proposes that knowledge of their origins and early development can help build an understanding of how best to handle their future.
Alistair Black is Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, Simon Pepper is Professor of Architecture, Liverpool University, UK and Kaye Bagshaw is the Research Officer for the AHRB-funded project 'Early public libraries in Britain' at Liverpool University.