Gibraltar Garrison Library

Rock Of Gibraltar aerial view

A library for use by the garrison was established in 1793 and was housed originally in a building on Main Street. As the library grew in size, a larger building was required and the British Government agreed to fund the construction of the imposing colonial style building which exists today.

The library grew to well over 30,000 books and was believed to be the finest English Language library outside England.

PLEASE NOTE THE GARRISON LIBRARY IS AN INDEPENDENT BODY WHICH IS NO LONGER ASSOCIATED WITH ANY MILITARY OR GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES, IT IS NOW A RESEARCH LIBRARY OPEN TO THOSE WITH RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS

The Garrison Library of Gibraltar was founded in the year 1793. The library grew to well over 30,000 books and was believed to be the finest English Language library outside England. In its present form the library is primarily a research library. It is no longer associated with the garrison due to its privately run status.

On the return to Gibraltar of the Historian of the Great Siege, Captain (afterwards Colonel) John Drinkwater, campaigned for a library. His scheme was ignored by his brother-officers though there was clearly a real need. Prior to the building of the library, officers would travel with their private collections, a habit not encouraged by the military baggage masters. Boredom of troops overseas had always been a problem, especially in Gibraltar at that time when there were few opportunities for cultural or recreational activities, no places to travel, indeed, scarcely space to gallop a horse.

The scheme was submitted to the Governor, General Sir Robert Boyd, and to the Lieut.-Governor, Major-General O’Hara, both of whom so highly approved of it, that the former gave as a donation £100, and the latter £30, which he afterwards liberally increased so as to become the most munificent Patron of the Institution. No time was lost in convening a public meeting which took place on the 27th August, 1793. under the presidency of Colonel Morse the Commanding Royal Engineer. The plan of Captain Drinkwater was unanimously approved; the necessary Fundamental Laws were passed, and a Committee was appointed to carry out the details into effect. So popular was the measure that nearly 500 volumes were immediately presented to the Library by various Officers, particularly Captain George Vansittart (afterwards a lieut. General in the Service) who gave the whole of his books to it.

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