2nd January 1882

Guille and Alles open their library

Thomas Guille and Frederick Alles’ library opened in the former Assembly Rooms, in St Peter Port’s Market Street, on 2 January 1882. It gave access to 15,000 books arranged in five varnished pine cases, as well as the full book collection of the Mechanics Institution. There was a table between each bookcase for the exclusive use of female readers.

Initially, the building was leased from the States of Guernsey, but the pair had an option to buy it from the very beginning. They exercised this option within the first couple of years and extended the building 1888. In doing so, they gave it a new, more impressive entrance befitting its status as a place of reference and learning.

Changing times

The library operated on a subscription basis for almost 100 years – from its founding until 1978. By then it was facing financial hardships. It seemed unlikely that increasing the £5 annual charge would return it to solvency, so instead it entered a partnership with the States of Guernsey. The States now leases the building from the trust that once ran the library and, as a result, has made it a free, open public resource, maintained for the good of the island.

The Star reported on the library’s opening, upon which it had done very good business, with locals taking the opportunity to see inside. “Many were the expressions of admiration of the entire arrangements,” wrote the paper’s reporter

It wasn’t home to just books, though. The collection also included several pictures, including a water colour drawing of Fountain Street and an engraving of Queen Victoria, who had visited the island almost 40 years earlier.


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Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes in Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st