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Deddington Library

The library occupies the Old Court House in the Horse Fair.

The library also has a large wall-mounted fabric collage made by the Deddington Craft Group in 1991; it depicts the buildings, trades and activities in Deddington through the ages.

 

Friends of Deddington Library (FoDL) group was formed in late 1997 when the library, like many others in Oxfordshire, was threatened with a reduction in hours and resources or even closure. Although there was a small reduction in hours, the village library remained open thanks to FoDL and others lobbying the County Council. The Friends were instrumental in the successful 2011 campaign.

FoDL is a registered charity No:1164811

2011 Campaign to Save Deddington Library 

Following the reinstatement of the lost hours, and after consultation with the residents of Deddington and other users of the library, the overwhelming consensus was for Saturday opening. This began in October 2001 then the Library opened from 10-12.30 each Saturday. In particular, many books in good condition have been donated and those which duplicate existing stock have been sold to raise funds; the Parish Council supplemented the book purchasing budget for new titles by £1000.

From the Past

The initiative for a Library in Deddington stems from a Memorandum of the Oxfordshire Education Committee (No. 714d) in 1921. It began life in the Town Hall. As an example of the extent to which it was used in its relatively early days, in 1935 19% of the population were members and 7008 books were issued (compared with 51% and 25055 issues in 1997, see above). In 1940 the Town Hall was commandeered by the Home Guard and a new home had to be found. The use of the Weslyan School Room in Church Street was suggested in return for a donation of 1(old) shilling for each opening. In 1941 the librarian resigned because the helpers preferred to support the soldiers' canteen. Shortly afterwards the library moved to Forester's Hall in the Market Place. In 1952 the Local Education Authority gave notice to terminate the tenancy of Forester's Hall and in 1956 the library moved to its present home in the Old Court House. The Court House was built about 1860 as the Magistrate's Court for the area. The barred window of the lock-up still exists; the Police House (now a private house) was next door in the Horse Fair.

The following are extracts from a local newspaper report of the official opening: 'A new 8,000 book library was opened by Alderman Mrs Hermione Hitchens, former chairman of Oxfordshire Education Committee. Together with the North Oxfordshire Mobile Library, which was on view outside, it will cater for the needs of both Deddington and the surrounding villages. The Guest Speaker at the opening was Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings. A vote of thanks for his speech was proposed by another author, Miss Christina Hole. Mrs Hitchens paid tribute to the Director of Education, Mr A.R. Chorlton, and Mr G.R. Wing, headmaster of Deddington Secondary Modern School, for their help and co-operation in starting the new library.'

Professor Tolkien's reply to the letter of thanks from the County Librarian is interesting: 'Even making allowance for your kindness and courtesy, your letter relieved me, as I was depressed at my wretched and inadequate performance. Even so, I do not think it could merit any fee, and I should feel it much more suitable that I should present a volume to the Deddington Library in memory of a pleasant occasion ...'.

Over the years, the annual reports of librarians were not always without opinion. For instance, in 1960: 'At the beginning of the winter television aerials were being erected all over the village, even in some of the poorest homes, and nearly all are rented. It is noticeable in Banbury that the TV rental shops are among the most affluent. However, within the last fortnight three readers have said they were tired of TV, so perhaps it will not be long before they return to their books.'