Spotlight on Hanley – The Boy’s Reading Room

On the evening of Monday, October 16, 1893, a large number of boys joined civic leaders assembled at Hanley Free Library to watch the mayor, Alderman Edwin John Hammersley, open the new Boys’ Reading Room.

The Boys’ Reading Room had been created by the council because adult readers did not want to share the library’s general reading room with boys.

Alderman Hammersley told those attending the ceremony that the Boys’ Reading Room contained between 700 and 800 books.

Speaking directly to the boys, he advised them to read books about British History and novels by leading authors including Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and James Fenimore Cooper.

At the conclusion of his speech, Alderman Hammersley quoted from a poem about books, which says that they give us:

” New views of life and teach us how to live;

They soothe the grieved, the stubborn they chastise

Fools they admonish and confirm the wise.

Their aid they yield to all; they never shun

The man of sorrow or the wretch undone;

Unlike the hard, the selfish and the proud

They fly not sullen from the supplicant crowd.

Nor tell to various people various things,

But show to subjects what they show to kings.”