Fondo WAR - World War Two collection

Área de identidad

Código de referencia



World War Two collection


Nivel de descripción


Volumen y soporte

97 items

Área de contexto

Nombre del productor


Historia administrativa

The first Public Libraries Act was passed in 1850 and was the result of a movement looking to form libraries which were freely open to everyone. After much opposition this first Act was only applicable to towns in excess of 10,000 people and it did not provide for the purchase of books. A further Act in 1855 resolved some of the limitations of the first one, and as a result more towns began to open their own free libraries. The method of adopting the Act was to be by a poll of the city ratepayers. It took until 1891 for York to gain approval from the city ratepayers, by which time 169 towns had established 'free libraries'.

On 1 September 1891, the York Corporation took over possession of the former subscription library building in Clifford Street. After two years of conversion work, overseen by the first librarian Mr Arthur H Furnish (the former Subscription Library Chief Librarian), the new Public Library was officially opened on 5 October 1893 by HRH The Duke of York (later King George V).

At the time of opening the stock of the library was 10,417 volumes, including volumes obtained from both the former York Mechanics Institution and the Subscription Library. On 1 January 1895 the library opened its magazine room to try and relieve overcrowding in the news room. Formation of the Reference Library was also at this point underway, with 2,269 books being set aside to form the core collection.

During the First World War soldiers were initially billeted in the basement and on the stairs of the library building, and once they left heavy machinery was installed instead. The war also saw the employment of female assistants for the first time.

In 1913 the Library Committee had been considering that the building was inadequate and approaches were made to the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. After preliminary negotiations, a formal request was made to the Trust in 1915, and following investigations, an offer of £12,000 was made on 29 February 1916. The Trust added, however, that any building work should not commence until after the war. A site had been acquired in Museum Street, and Messrs Brierley and Rutherford, architects, were employed to design the building. When work commenced after the war, the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust revised its offer to £13,200, however even then a loan was needed to complete the project.

The first portion of the building, containing the central block and one wing, was officially opened on 23 September 1927 by the Earl of Elgin, and cost £24,500. In 1934 a further portion of the building was erected, before the building was finally completed in 1938. The completed building was opened by Sir John A R Marriott MA on 26 October 1938.

On 1 April 1937 the City boundaries were extended to include Acomb and Dringhouses, and the Public Library acquired its first local branch libraries as a result. In July 1937 a book service was also introduced one day per week from the Social Hall on the Huntington Road Estate.

On the outbreak of war in September 1939, the News Room and Magazine Room at the Central Library were taken over by the Civil Defence Authority as the headquarters of the WVS, and in the following month the Hunt Room and the basement were commandeered by the Ministry of Food for the local Food Control Office. Following the Baedeker Air Raid on York in April 1942, the building was used for a fortnight as the Central Administrative and Information Centre for relief purposes. During the first week of this work library activities were completely suspended, and staff were seconded to help the thousands of people requiring assistance.

During the 1940s a new site was acquired for Acomb Library, and the new City Information Bureau, which had split from the Reference Library to handle 'quick reference' enquiries from personal and business interests was formed.

Towards the end of 1957 the Civic Records were transferred from the Guildhall to the Library and a full time archivist was appointed to administer this collection and other archival material relating to the city. Further alterations to the building were also seen in the 1960s, with the expansion of the Readers' advisory service and the addition of a gramophone record collection in 1968.

Plans for a new branch library at Tang Hall were drawn up in 1960, although delays meant that the building was not officially opened until 29 November 1962. Dringhouses library also underwent structural work in 1961, including the addition of a workroom, and by 1967 began opening on a full time basis. The following year permission was granted to build a new purpose-built library at Acomb, replacing the temporary structure on the same site.

The library service in York continued to expand, and by 2014 the service it included the main central library and 14 branch libraries across the city. The service also currently has two reading cafes and one mobile branch library.

On 1 May 2014 the library service of City of York Council 'spun out' from the main council as a not-for profit Industrial and Provident Mutual Society called 'Explore York Libraries and Archives.'
See Also - York Subscription Library

Institución archivística

Área de contenido y estructura

Alcance y contenido

This collection contains examples of some of the material held in York City Archives relating to World War Two, including pamphlets, printed lists and photographs. Other material relating to World War Two also exists elsewhere in the archive. The collection includes a number of items relating to the Baedeker Raid on York in April 1942.


Sistema de arreglo

Área de condiciones de acceso y uso

Condiciones de acceso


Material is available subject to the usual terms and conditions of access to Archives and Local History collections.


Images are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Idioma del material

  • inglés

Escritura del material

    Notas sobre las lenguas y escrituras

    Instrumentos de descripción

    Área de materiales relacionados

    Existencia y localización de originales

    Existencia y localización de copias

    Unidades de descripción relacionadas

    Descripciones relacionadas

    Área de notas

    Identificador/es alternativo(os)



    Puntos de acceso

    Puntos de acceso por materia

    Puntos de acceso por lugar

    Puntos de acceso por autoridad

    Tipo de puntos de acceso

    Área de control de la descripción

    Área de Ingreso