BATH Central Library marked its 100th year with a gala event featuring music, drama, and historical reenactments on Wednesday, July 10.

Music, dancing and drama performed by local groups and attire from the 1920s all featured in the gala celebrations.

The first free public lending library in Bath opened in the print room of the Victoria Art Gallery by the Mayor of the time, Alderman Chas Hacker, in July 1924. He borrowed the first book, The Heavenly Twins, by Madam Sarah Grand. 

This historic moment was recreated at last night’s gala with the current Mayor, Councillor Michelle O’Doherty, borrowing the same book to kick off the gala evening which saw performances from local artists including BathTub Orchestra, Little Dancers, Acca Sulia and Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society, as well as schoolchildren from across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) performing readings from the library’s Centenary Collection of 100 books from 100 years.

Founded in 1924 with 9,200 books, Bath Central Library has grown to offer borrowers access to around two million items through the Libraries West Consortium. Over the century, it has added a children’s library, study areas, public computers, Wi-Fi, and more, all available free of charge to residents and visitors.

The gala is the second key event in a year-long celebration of 100 years of library services in Bath and North East Somerset. Midsomer Norton Library held the first event in April with Keynsham Library’s celebration to follow in October. Celebrations are also being held in Community Libraries and the Virtual Library.

An exhibition at the library will run throughout July and August, charting the history of all the public libraries in B&NES: Bath Central Library, Keynsham Library, Midsomer Norton Library, the mobile library and all the branch and community libraries.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Despite the changes we’ve seen across 100 years, lots of things have stayed the same. We offer a warm welcome at all of our libraries which provide a safe place to meet with others, enjoy activities and learn. Libraries are an integral part of our communities and it was fantastic to see past and present staff and volunteers, partner organisations and local children and artists come together for the celebrations.”

Visit the Bath and North East Somerset Libraries website for further updates and details of regular library events throughout the year.

Find out more about the council’s library and information services.