The ‘most important branch of the institution’: Libraries of the Mechanics’ Institutes

During his inaugural lecture as president of the Beechworth Athenaeum in 1864, J. B. Castieau identified one of the key functions and priorities of the mechanics’ institutes, arguing that the ‘Library was the main stay and sheet anchor of the Institution’. The selection of books, Castieau believed was ‘[a]lmost the only really, important duty ofContinue reading “The ‘most important branch of the institution’: Libraries of the Mechanics’ Institutes”

Fires at Mechanics’ Institutes

Mechanics’ institutes and their libraries faced a high risk of being destroyed by fire in the nineteenth century. The Sandhurst Mechanics’ Institute caught alight on 25 December 1865 and while it is not clear whether they lost any of their library collection, parts of the building were damaged and unfortunately the building was not insured.Continue reading “Fires at Mechanics’ Institutes”