The Liverpool Public Library, one of the first in the country, was first housed in a building in Duke Street and the Reference Library with over 8,000 books was opened to the public on 18th October, 1852. Eight years later, a Free Public Library and Museum were donated by William Brown, the street in which they were sited being named after him. During its initial year of operation the Public Library issued over 111,000 books. By its Jubilee year 1902-3, this had risen to over 600,000. The inscription on a granite slab over the main entrance reads: THIS BUILDING CONTAINING THE FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY, MUSEUM, AND GALLERY OF ARTS, INCLUDING THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, PRESENTED BY THE EARL OF DERBY WAS ERECTED ON A SITE PROVIDED BY THE CORPORATION AT THE SOLE COST OF WILLIAM BROWN OF LIVERPOOL, MERCHANT AND BY HIM PRESENTED AS A FREE GIFT TO HIS FELLOW TOWNSMEN, OCTOBER 18TH 1880.

Image details: Wm Herdman