10 Facts About Librarians Past

1. There Have Been a Total of 13 Librarians over the last 130 Years.

One of the thirteen was an honorary librarian while four of the thirteen have been women.

William Knill (2)2. The First Librarian was Given a Pension on his Retirement in 1893

William Knill, who was also the last librarian of the Barnstaple Literary & Scientific Institution was given a pension of £50 per annum. He moved to Swansea to be with his son.

Thomas Wainwright - Harper Album 1-223. Thomas Wainwright Our Second Librarian was the Longest Serving

Thomas Wainwright served as Librarian for 22 years and 11 months before he died in post just after his 90th birthday.

4. Mervyn Palmer was the Shortest Serving Librarian, only lasting 83 days in Post

Palmer decided the job was not to his liking and moved to Ilfracombe. He was involved in the creation of Ilfracombe Museum.

5. Edith Young was the First Female Librarian

Edith was originally hired as Assistant Librarian after Wainwright’s death. After Hargreaves, her superior resigned under a cloud in 1919 she continued as an assistant being overseen by Board member Frank Chanter as Hon Librarian. Sometime between 1926 and 1930 she officially became Librarian even though she had effectively been doing the job for several years.

6. Edith Young was also Librarian Twice!

When her successor, Meryn Palmer, abruptly resigned, the Board asked Miss Young to come back until a new librarian could be found. She agreed and became the only librarian to hold the position twice.

IMG_1906 (Edited)
Examples of Librarians handwritting over the years

7. The Whittaker Sisters served as librarian and assistant librarian at the same time

Florence Whittaker was Daphne Drake’s Assistant Librarian, before she took over the role on Daphne’s departure to the Ministry of Aircraft Production in January 1944. Florence’s sister, May, stepped into the role of assistant and they worked together up to December 1945 when both left the Athenaeum to pursue their careers.

8. Alfred Blackwell would Leave His Phone Outside His Office Door!

Alfred Blackwell spent a fair bit of time researching the history of Lundy (and Instow) several of our older Board members and customers can remember him leaving the phone on the floor outside his closed office door while he was working away. The assistants had to answer the phone in the corridor!

1980-Aug-1980-460 Mr Morris9. Griffith Alva Morris Served his Country in Both World Wars

During the First World War Morris was a member of the Royal Flying Corps making him one of the first members of the Royal Air Force when it came into being on the 1st April 1918. During the Second War he worked in the Ministry of Supply.

10. John Maxwell Rowe Became one of Our Benefactors

John Rowe joined as librarian in April 1981 and was the Athenaeum’s military historian. During the late 1980s John oversaw the move from our old building on the Square to our current home in the main library. On his retirement in 1993 he became a director and when he passed away in 2008, he became one of our benefactors.Rowe 1

…Barum Athena

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