Libraries


Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Robert,

Both the 1st and 2nd Class Lounges contained bookcases, from which books could be borrowed. I am not aware of any such facility in 3rd Class.

Lester
 
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Robert Redmond

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Hello Lester,

Thank you for your quick reply. So there were no areas specifically designated as a library, they were just a part of the lounges? I did not know this. For some reason I thought that I had seen a deck diagram in one of my books that had a room called the library. Thanks for this information. Do you know if there is any place that I could see a picture of the areas that housed the books? Are you aware of any such resource that has the photos
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The 2nd Class facility was generally referred to and shown on plans as a library rather than a lounge. In the Edwardian era of 'betterment through education' the term 'library' would have made more sense to the middle class passengers in 2nd Class. In his book 'The Loss of the SS Titanic' Lawrence Beesley described the room and the 'thin, stooping, sad-faced' steward who acted as librarian.

There are photographs of both rooms in many books, for instance 'Titanic - an ilustrated history' by Don Lynch. If you don't already own Don's book it's a must-have for your collection.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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No correction intended, Lester. You were quite right in describing both rooms as lounges with bookcases, and Don Lynch refers to "the second-class lounge, or library, as it was known". My intention was to explain the difference in nomenclature, in line with the perceptions of those who used the two rooms, and to reassure Robert that he had indeed seen a 'library' on the deckplans!

Bob
 
Dec 7, 2000
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In the opinions of some passengers the 'libraries' were quite poorly equipped. As far as I know, they were stocked with popular books of the day, and I guess whether the books were liked or not depended on personal preferences of the passengers. In either case, there was only one bookcase worth of books in the 1st and 2nd class Lounges. I would hardly call that a library. Personally, I think Lounge is a more appropriate terms, especially for 1st class.

Daniel.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Times change. Back in 1912 books were costly luxury items and a single bookcase would have been called a library by most people. Beesley, who was familiar with the resources of Cambridge University, called both the room and the bookcase a 'library'. Even in the 1950's, when my family home had a bookshelf stocked with about 20 volumes, we were known as the people who lived in "a house full of books". I recall one visitor being fascinated by this vast collection and asking why we had so many - "You can't have read ALL of them".

But I do agree that the 2nd Class 'library' was used most often as a lounge or writing room, especially in poor weather. The bookcase was an added attraction for the studious.

Bob
 
Nov 9, 2002
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Hey,
I've read before that "Futility" was onboard. The famous novel about the doomed Titan. Don Don Don! (sound effects please)

Sahand
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Yeah, Sahand, I can just hear the soundtrack from "Jaws" playing now!
proud.gif


I have several bookcases of various sizes, all overflowing with books of all types, filled with the books I've been collecting since my childhood and teen years. And I bring in more books all the time. I suppose this is true for a good number of the people who post here.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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To solve that problem, I hatched a cunning scheme to store my books under the bed. This worked fine for a while, but now I can't get in the bed 'cause the ceiling is in the way.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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I outgrew 'under my bed' when I was a teen - decades ago.

I have 5 bookcases full of fiction here in what used to be 'the family room'. Then a long shelf full of Titanic, and 4 other shelves with books too big for anyplace else.

Not counting, all the comics, magazines, and misc. filling up what is supposed to be a bedroom.

And one final bookcase upstairs, with my kids old books, and some of my historical material.

Yup, I'm pretty hard core.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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For a fairly large room, there was a small book shelf in the 2nd class library. The image below I believe is originally from H&W (now the archives are held at UFTM) but this pic is from an Olympic brochure.

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Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Wasn't there actually a librarian on board? I seem to recall somewhere something about his sitting and counting the borrowing slips when the ship hit the iceberg, although I can't recall where.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Only one crew member was engaged as a 'library steward' - Mr T Kelland, who did not survive. He was presumably based in the 2nd Class Library, though Beesley's description suggests an older man (Kelland was only 21).
 

Chris Dohany

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Jan 8, 2001
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I had also pictured the "librarian" as a man of advanced years. The library steward being depicted as such in the movie SOS Titanic no doubt influenced my mental vision. Mr. Kelland did sign with the 2nd class stewards, so it is undoubtedly he who Beesley was referring to.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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A librarian would have nothing more to do than issue books and keep a record of it so he knows who borrowed what. As you can see, there really wasn't that much variety, and passengers would probably pick a book by themselves.

Daniel.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Beesley suggests that Kelland occasionally had other tasks to do, like handing out baggage declaration forms. As he couldn't have been in two places at the same time, I wonder who kept track of the books in the 1st Class lounge? Maybe the passengers there were allowed to help themselves, in all senses of the phrase!
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"A librarian would have nothing more to do than issue books and keep a record of it so he knows who borrowed what."

"Beesley suggests that Kelland occasionally had other tasks to do, like handing out baggage declaration forms.... "


I cannot speak for Titanic but the Library Steward is a member of the public room steward cohort and would therefore have other duties, especially on sailing and docking days. On passage the library is often a room where private receptions are held and the library steward would have to rig up, attend and break down such functions.

Remember also there is the cleaning to be done out of hours - all those brass doorhandles, glass panels, carpets, linoleum, lloyd loom chairs, tabletops and polished woodwork etc. Once should not confuse the public persona of the composed PRS wafting discreetly over the Wilton with the same animal, bow tie askew, scurrying along the working alleyway trying to hold his working day together.

Library book collections were customarily put aboard on contract by such as Harrods, who would be responsible for updating the stock between voyages. Shipboard passenger library stock is never taxing to the intellect. Nevertheless it represents a considerable capital value and passengers would not normally be allowed just to 'help themselves'.

Noel
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Noel, isn't it possible that they made out their own slips on an honor basis? That was considered pretty binding to the upper classes back then, and ties in with the men allowing the women off the ship first, also considered a point of honor.