Constructed as a jail in 1797, the building was converted around 80 years later to become a library, reading room and museum. We were asked not to take photos of the interior, but this image on Flickr gives a sense of what it looks like, with a central desk housing computer terminals and the books shelved in bays (formerly cells) around the outside. Upstairs is much the same, but with several of the alcoves dedicated to museum exhibits.
For a weekday afternoon in the holiday season it seemed quite busy, with several people browsing the shelves and using the computers, and others popping in to return books whilst we were there. It also seems to be a feature on the tourist trail, and we were not the only curious visitors wandering in. This must get quite annoying for the staff, as there isn’t a great deal of space inside, but they were friendly and welcoming, and seemed happy for us to look around.
I don’t tend to visit public libraries when I’m travelling, but maybe I should seek them out more often.
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