Potter pictured below, set up the library under the provisions of the Public Libraries Act of 1850, he spearheaded a campaign to purchase the building and the 18,028 books that filled the shelves. The money, £4156 of which paid for the books, was raised from all areas of society, from a committee of working men to Prince Albert.
The House of Science in Campfield, which today is close to the site of the Museum of Science and Industry's Air and Space Hall housed the towns library. In 1877, the original building became unsafe and the collection was moved to the Old Town Hall in Kings Street, which by 1912 had become too small and the towns library was temporary housed in Piccadilly. It was not until after 1926, when a competition was held for the design of an extension to the Town Hall, together with a new library, that work began.
In 1845 and at the age of 30, John Potter began his career in public life, he had a seat on Manchester Town Council and was made Justice of the Peace for the borough. 1848 saw Potter elected as Mayor of Manchester and three years later, on Queen Victoria's visit to the city, he was knighted.
At the opening of the new library Potter invited Charles Dickens to speak at the ceremony, in the image below you can see Dicken's hand written acceptance letter.
Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens’.
It has been suggested that Dicken's visit to Manchester, inspired his 1854 story Hard Times, his shortest story incidentally, set in Coketown, a fictional industrial mill town.
"I call it an arsenal, for books are weapons, whether for war or for self-defence; and perhaps the principles of chivalry are as applicable to the student now as they were to the knight of old - to courage, give man the service, and to heaven the glory ... what minds may be destined to grow up and flourish under the shade of this tree of knowledge which you have now planted, none of us can conjecture; but you of the present generation have nobly done your duty and may calmly leave the result to time, sure that you have placed, beside the sorrows, the cares, and passions of this common sense life, the still monitors that instruct our youth, that direct our manhood, and comfort our old age. "
Voices for the Library write
"Public libraries are currently under attack as never before. Quite apart from the imperatives of cutting council spending, many critics question the point of public libraries. With the advent of the internet and the ebook, public libraries are described as out -dated They are also accused of being too Middle Class and of being a luxury we cannot afford when other services are facing financial pressure."
Click on the link to their website to read about why libraries are still important
I say, thank goodness for men like John Potter!