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Book borrowing at Leeds General Infirmary

Rebecca Bowd Portrait
Rebecca Bowden introduces her research.
Register of circulation from LGI
William Hey's casebooks
reading across sources
primary sources in phd research

A key aim of my thesis was to establish whether the books in the Leeds lending libraries were ever borrowed and read by library members. One way of tracing this was by looking at surviving library records from the period. These included catalogues of books - which frequently survive - and registers of borrowers - which only occasionally survive. Out of the four libraries in Leeds whose archives I studied, only the Infirmary Library had a surviving record of what was borrowed from the library.

The Register of Circulation of the Leeds General Infirmary Library details what was borrowed from the library, and by whom, between 1802 and 1827. It lists information including the day an item was lent out from the library, the title of the item, the name of the subscriber or member who borrowed it, the date it was returned to the library, and whether any fines were incurred. Effectively it is a gold-mine of information for the historian. What it can't tell us though, is whether any of these books were actually read by the people who borrowed them.