On July 23, 1849 the British House of Commons published Report from the Select Committee on Public Libraries; Together with Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix. This proceedings was largely motivated by the report of librarian Edward Edwards entitled Approximate Statistical View of the Principal Public Libraries of Europe and of the United States of America, which was published as an Appendix on pp. 255-305. The validity of much of these statistics has been criticized, but their publication had a beneficial effect on library development.
As a result of this report, which contained extensive testimony by Edward Edwards, François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, Guglielmo (William) Libri, and Samuel Smiles, politician William Ewart sponsored the 1850 Public Libraries Act, and because of his contributions Edward Edwards was appointed the first librarian of the first major library opened under the Public Libraries Act, the Manchester Free Library.
Edwards resigned from this post in 1858; the following year he issued the first comprehensive account of the development of libraries.
(This entry was last revised on 06-16-2014.)