The English Public Library 1945-85

BookThe English Public Library 1945-85

The English Public Library 1945-85

Introductions to Heritage Assets

Historic England


July 29th, 2016





This guide looks at the development of public libraries in England after the Second World War. It places their architecture – external and also internal – within a period of considerable political, social and economic change.

Post-war aspirations set new challenges for the country’s library services, which had already begun to expand considerably in the 1930s. Outwardly, new library buildings continued – financial constraints permitting - to reflect civic pride and aspirations, while inside new layouts, fixtures and fittings provided for an increasingly middle-class readership. Children’s services were ever-more important, while larger libraries offered facilities such as local studies and record libraries, and later computers.

Author Information

Elain Harwood is an architectural historian with Historic England and expert in Second World War English architecture.