Colne’s first public library was opened in Colne Lane on Monday 11 February 1895 in the former council offices vacated by the move to the new town hall. The town’s first librarian was Ernest Crowther, who had been appointed the previous October on a salary of 2 shillings and 6 pence per week. In the intervening months the rooms had to be decorated, shelves fitted and books ordered. In the last few weeks before the opening, prospective borrowers were asked to fill in application forms and a catalogue of the library’s stock was made and sold for 3 pence a time.
The number of borrowers continued to grow, with 1602 readers cards issued in the first year and nearly 29,000 books leant out in the same period, 81% of them fiction. The librarian’s second annual report in February 1897 showed further growth: