Presbyterian Research Centre director Anne Jackman with the Kaikorai Presbyterian Church circulating library register from the 1880s, a piece of local history recently rediscovered. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The titles include everything from Missionary Enterprises to
The Wonders of the Human Body, and the subscribers are listed
in cursive handwriting both elegant and neat.
The Kaikorai Presbyterian Church circulating library register
is a small piece of local history, and it was recently
rediscovered and given to the church's archive at Knox
Presbyterian Research Centre director Anne Jackman says the
register is a ''snapshot of what people would read'' at the
The register came to light after Ms Jackman, who is in charge
of both the Hewitson Library and the church's national
archive at Knox College, spoke at a genealogists' meeting in
She was approached by an attendee who had discovered the item
among family papers, and asked if the archive would be
interested in it.
The archive stores items from official records to ministers'
personal papers, and Ms Jackman said the register was of
The Kaikorai Church has stood at the crossroads of Taieri Rd
and Nairn St since 1868.
Circulating libraries were common in the past, with most
parishes having one, so parishioners could access ''suitable
The register shows the Waverley Novels, by Sir Walter Scott,
were popular, as was the Sunday at Home journal and travel
books like The Land and People of China. The History of
Scotland, unsurprisingly, was also a part of the collection.
The rules of the library were adopted at a meeting on June
It was open to any member of the congregation, and ''any
person recommended by a member or adherent who is a
The rules were clear when it came to the library committee's
powers, which included ''the power to exclude from the
library any book which they may deem unsuitable''.
Subscription cost one shilling a quarter, paid in advance,
and books were given out on a Thursday night at the close of
the prayer meeting.
Ms Jackman said the register had been added to the archive,
which was open to anybody with an interest in the history of
the church. It would join the 180,000 items in the photograph
collection, and 2500 linear metres of archive material.