Of such libraries as may be found in the British colonies there are very few that call for particular mention here.
The largest collection of books in Canada is the library of parliament at Ottawa. Though founded in 1815, it contained very few books until 1841, when the two libraries of Upper and Lower Canada were joined. After being destroyed by fire, the library was re-established in 1855, chiefly for parliamentary use. It now contains 100,000 volumes, and is open to the public except when parliament is sitting. Books are lent out. The main library is a handsome octagonal apartment with beautiful carved work in Canadian white wood.
In the South African Public Library at Capetown, which was established in 1818, there are 39,000 volumes, including the collection bequeathed by Sir George Grey, comprising, besides MSS. and early printed books, an unrivalled collection of works in the native languages of Africa, Australia, &c. The library is open to any respectable person.
The largest library in the Australian colonies is the Public Library of Victoria at Melbourne, which was established in 1853. In 1881 it numbered 89,387 volumes with 22,257 pamphlets; it possesses a ciollection of works on Australasia. The library has a printed catalogue (1880). It is supported by an annual parliamentary vote, which amounted last year to 5495 pounds. Readers are admitted without any formally, and have free access to the shelves. Although books are not lent out of the library individually, there is a system by which parcels of from 100 to 400 books are lent to libraries, mechanics institutes &c., in the inland towns of Victoria. There are several other not inconsiderable libraries in Melbourne. Next in importance to the Melbourne Library is the Sydney Free Public Library, which is said to contain the largest collection of works on Australasia anywhere to be found. It has a lending as well as a reference department, and is much used.
Particulars of other colonial libraries will be found in the tables.
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Libraries - Table of Contents