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Cayman’s Public Library system started in George Town in 1920 when the government included an annual grant of 40 pounds in the budget for the establishment of a subscription library. The library was located in a room above the old jail next to the old court house. At the end of 1937, plans were made for building a larger library at George Town to include reading and reference rooms.
The new building was designed by Captain Rayal Bodden, an accomplished shipwright, and completed in 1939. The distinctive timbered ceiling shows the evidence of a shipbuilder’s skill, as it is fashioned after a ship’s hull turned upside down. The ends of the hammer beams are decorated with the shields of prominent British Institutions of learning. These are thought to be original, as is the fan over the entrance door. The ceiling beams are original, but the boards have been replaced to reduce leaks.
The front façade of the building was originally flat, with the entrance foyer being added more recently, when the original keystone and fan were reinstalled.
The new library opened its doors to the public in 1940, and for a long time the main source of printed matter was the Ranfurly Library in England. Lady Ranfurly, wife of a colonial governor, started the project of collecting used books for shipment to British territories where books were in short supply. In 1980, the first trained librarian took over the running of the public library.
Newstar, October 1989, p64.
National Trust. Historical Review Tour, p.11.
Last Updated: 2008-09-13