Hidden away in Liverpool’s city centre the Athenaeum, a former gentleman’s club, is opening its doors to students and schools to use its facilities.
Located on Church Alley, between Topshop and Primark, in the heart of the Athenaeum is a library holding 60,000 books.
This library has been locked away and only the 500 proprietors of the Athenaeum have been able to access it. A new programme is encouraging schools and university students to visit the Athenaeum, which was founded in 1797.
David Brazendale, chairman of the Athenaeum’s library committee, told JMU Journalism: “A lot of the books are very rare, if not unique and many of them are very valuable. We want to open it up to students, scholars and researchers.”
“The collection of books is very strong in history and on 18th century science but a bit weak on modern science technology.”
English and foreign literature, biography, typography and theological works also feature in the general collection. A grant from the heritage lottery is to help with the plans to reach out to students. Brazendale said part of the plan will see some of the collection digitised and made freely accessible on the internet.
He also spoke about a collection pamphlets dating from before the opening of the Athenaeum in 1797, saying: “They made a point of buying pamphlets which were the means of mass communication at the time.”
These pamphlets can only be found in the Athenaeum, he added.