Sharing the Portico’s Library’s Hidden Heritage
In spring 2018 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded The Portico Library a grant to catalogue its historic archives and share its discoveries. I was asked to work with the Portico to help them in their endeavour and in December, I will be exhibiting a series of art work that highlight stories from the collection, uncovering lesser known tales from the libraries archives.
I have spent a number of days exploring the archives and researching subjects including newspapers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
I was particularly intrigued by the Newsroom at The Portico that was established when the library first formed in 1806. The Newsroom housed a large collection of local, national and international newspapers and periodicals. As a printmaker I have a natural interest in the origins and role of printed matter, from the practical application of typesetting and the printers who created the newspapers to the political and social aspects of information, how it was shared, who controlled it and who had access to it.
The minute books from the collection, written in traditional handwritten script record the day to day running of the library. Committee members over see the work of library employees, establish sub groups to deal with building works and newspaper & periodical subscriptions. The minute books give a glimpse to the reoccurring themes and issues from lack of lighting, roofing issues and the needs of the Proprietors.