It’s 1942. The impact of the Second World War is being felt at home, and money is short. The Ministry of Labour calls on councils to provide “attractions and amenities in London parks, with a view to persuading the public to spend their holidays at home”.
Marylebone Library’s contribution to the war effort was the “Library in the Park” – Regent’s Park, that is. Every afternoon from July to September Mrs Russell Miller walked across from her home in Grove End Road, and sat in the park issuing books from a cupboard to anyone who could produce a National Identity Card.
In 2015, Marylebone Library is back outdoors to recreate the Library in the Park, this time in Paddington Street Gardens (South). Library staff, suitably dressed for 1942, will dispense books from the original cupboard – yes, it survives to this day! We will also talk to passers-by, explaining today’s library services, and joining them up on the spot. The event will take place this Friday 17 July, from 12.00 noon to 4.00pm, and Saturday 18 July, from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
We will have photos of the original set-up (courtesy of Westminster City Archives), and a plentiful supply of patriotic bunting! Keep Calm and Carry On – straight round to Paddington Street Gardens.