Marylebone Library in the Park: now and then

Marylebone Library in Regent's Park, 1942. Image property of Westminster City ArchivesIn 1942, The Ministry of Labour called on councils to attempt to persuade the public to have what we would now call a ‘staycation’. You can read more about library activities in July to September 1942 in Marylebone Library does its bit.

In 2015, we did it again! On Friday 17 July and Saturday 18 July, Marylebone Library was out in Paddington Street Gardens with the original cupboard, staff in full period dress, hats, books, memorabilia, flyers and registration forms aplenty. Registrations were made, books were issued, awareness was raised, our services advertised, our events promoted… and it was sunny!

Marylebone Library in the Park 2015

Moreover, encounters happened – cross-cultural ones: Australian, French, Turkish and Spanish visitors, all enjoying the story about the Library in the Park, admiring the cupboard (“Is it really that old? Over 70 years!”), commenting on the books, the hats or the future of libraries.

Marylebone Library in the Park 2015 - ration books and identity cards displayChildren tried on the Brodie helmets, ready to leave with them on… Oops, those we do not lend! And then there was a lady, Kitty, born in the 1930s. She showed the ration books and coupons to a boy who was passing by, telling him stories from the war, what it was like – the bad, the good, the changes – two generations 70 years apart brought together by this little slice of living history.

It felt good. We had taken the library to the park, hoping to get the people from the park to come into the libraries. We had linked the inside and the outside, the past and present, the young and the old, an encounter between 1942 and 2015, meeting with stories and history! And isn’t that what defines a library: a place to meet with stories, history, and people?

Marylebone Library in Regent's Park, 1942. Image property of Westminster City ArchivesMarylebone Library in the Park 2015



6 responses to “Marylebone Library in the Park: now and then

  1. Pingback: Love your park | Books & the City

  2. Brilliant pics! What a great idea – bringing back memories for older residents and helping younger people learn about wartime


  3. Very proud to be a Librarian for the City of Westminster! Keep up the good work and please send your photos to us, so that we can add them to the City of Westminster Archives for prosterity!

    Suzi 🙂


  4. Pingback: Into the next millennium | Books & the City

  5. You have a great history in Westminster Libraries, proud that I survived 20 years and worked first in the wonderful Great Smith Street Library one of the oldest public libraries in London. Best wishes to all my former colleagues there!


  6. Sorry 10 not 20 🙂


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