Mudie's Select Library was a for-profit lending library established by Charles Edward Mudie (1818-1890) in London, England in 1842. Initially, for one guinea a year an individual could borrow unlimited books from the library one at a time. Mudie's Select Library and similar for-profit libraries were referred to as "circulating libraries". David Kaser's A Book For A Sixpence: The Circulating Library in America (Beta Phi Mu, 1980) discusses this library format in the United States. In his book Kaser indicates that Mudie's library was probably the largest such library ever established and at one point contained over seven million volumes. The economic model for distributing books to the public created by Mudie had an enormous impact on publishing in England in the 19th century. That impact is described here by George P. Landow of Brown University. Guinevere L. Griest's Mudie's Circulating Library and the Victorian Novel (Indiana Univ. Press, 1970) has a more comprehensive discussion of that impact. In 1864 Mudie's Select Library was converted into a limited company which sold shares. The share shown above was issued on October 26, 1864. Seymour Eaton's Booklovers Library, a similar enterprise in the United States, which was established at the beginning of the 20th century was probably greatly influenced by Mudie's library.
Freedom to Read Foundation: 45 Years
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