From the Chair

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas and are now fully recovered to face 2020! 

2019 was, as usual, a busy year for the Morrab, with a huge variety of talks, film shows, children’s storytelling and art and craft courses. Almost all of these were fully booked, and all raised funds for the library through your generous donations. So a big thank you for your support. I’m happy to say that the talks’ programme for 2020 is looking equally busy. The Library also attracted many new members in 2019, with membership standing at 715 at the close of the year. 

Looking ahead, plans are afoot for the refurbishment of the basement. This would see the creation of a proper working space for the book conservation team, a private workspace for the Library staff, a new space for visiting researchers, as well as improving our storage capacity. The Trustees have been meeting with various advisors ahead of making a substantial bid to the National Heritage Lottery Fund. This bid is also likely to contain a budget for environmental improvements to the building, principally solar panels on the roof and, potentially, a ground source heating system to replace our ancient night storage heaters. Inevitably, the process is likely to be lengthy, but it’s an extremely important development for the library going forward.  The Digitisation of the Library’s book catalogue will also get underway this year. As with so many Library projects the Library’s volunteers will provide enormous support for this; the Trustees thanks go out to them for all the work they do for the Library. 

You will have recently received an email from us about joining our new Library Benefactors Scheme. We hope you might consider this an important way of supporting our wonderful library. Contact Library staff if you would like more information.

All the very best. 

Peter Chapman – Chair


News from the Photo Archive 

We recently had a recruiting drive for volunteers and had a fantastic response. With our new volunteers we are now able to redouble our efforts to scan all of the prints, negatives and glass plates in our collection. The work in the archive, however, is not only to scan and save the images and make them available but also to identify and date them. With our new volunteer intake we have gained more local knowledge which helps greatly in this process. 


You could help as well! Simply browse our photos on the Morrab Library website and see what information we have about the images and we would be glad to hear from you if you can add anything. You can then contact me at telling me the title and number of the photo and giving your information. At the same time you will have endless fun looking at the images of Penwith and places further afield. 


David Puddifoot – Photo Archive Manager



A gentle reminder that your annual membership subscriptions are now due. There are more methods to pay this year – via card, cash or cheque, and also using our Direct Debit facility. Please contact the library for more information. Our thanks to everyone who has already renewed this year.


We have also introduced student membership at a reduced rate of £20 per year. This is an individual membership (not household), and will be available to any who present their current student card at the desk.


Annual General Meeting

Morrab Library’s AGM will be held from 2.00pm on Monday 2nd March at the Lugger Inn (Marine Terrace, PZ). Papers relating to the meeting are attached to this newsletter. All members are very welcome to attend – please note however that on voting matters, only one vote per household is permitted. We very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there.



We have already hosted our first talk of the year, and look forward to many more throughout the year. The schedule remains a work in progress, but at the end of this email you’ll find a list of those which have been confirmed at the time of writing. We can still only take bookings once each event is advertised, usually around a month before the event, so please keep an eye out on email, and in the library, as bookings open.


You will notice that the Trustees have made the decision to reduce the number of Fairs we host this year. The Spring Fair will merge with the Summer Fete, and we won’t be hosting a Book Fair this year. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being the huge amount of work required to prepare for and host the events. We will do our utmost to ensure that the Summer and Christmas Craft Fairs are brilliant, and look forward to welcoming you to both.


We’re delighted to announce that local artist Karen Lorenz will join us for two weeks from the 6th – 21st June as our artist-in-residence during the new Penzance Art Festival PZ20. More details will follow soon.


Gift Aid on Donations

The library welcomes donations of books to either add to its collections, or to sell in order to raise valuable funds. We are now able to claim Gift Aid on donated books which means we get an extra 25p for every £1 sold. If you are looking to donate books to us, and you are eligible to pay Gift Aid (i.e. you are a UK taxpayer) do let us know. It’s a simple way of raising money for our library and sharing the joy of books!


National Archives

Our wonderful team of volunteers have been busy over the last few months  creating archive records to be added to the National Archives DISCOVERY catalogue. So far, the collections relating to JT Blight, Sir Humphry Davy and his brother John Davy, Caldwell Harpur, Thomas Dawson, and our records on the subject of Railways and Gardens have been added, with more to follow soon. It is all searchable via this link:


Member email addresses

There are over 100 members who we don’t have email addresses for, and therefore our budget only allows us to contact you just twice a year through a postal mailout. If you now have an email address and would like to be contacted in this way, please let us know and we can add you to our email list, where you’ll be kept up to date regularly on talks, events and classes as they happen here. For members already receiving our emails, please don’t forget to update us if your details change.


Other cataloguing news 

We are delighted to say that the library has now purchased the KOHA library management system system, which will allow us to begin the process of creating a digital catalogue of our book collections. We are in the midst of sorting out the technicalities involved in getting it up and running. We’ll be recruiting volunteers soon to start adding our book titles to the system, in what will be the beginning of a very long but worthwhile process in helping our members, and the rest of the world, get a better idea of the brilliant collections held within our library.


Book title suggestions

Don’t forget that all members are welcome to suggest titles which are not held in the library, for consideration by the Book Selection Committee. The team meet four times per year to decide which books to purchase for the collections, and your ideas and suggestions are invaluable to us.


Social Media

For those who don’t follow us already, a reminder that news about the library can also be found on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. 


Public Access Defibrillator  – a message from Martin Crosfill, Library Member

“A reminder that the Library, alongside the Friends of the Gardens and Pengarth

Day Centre are supporting an appeal for the provision of a public access

defibrillator in the Morrab Gardens.The Gardens are used by people of all ages and it is

hardly necessary these days to point out the value. £2000 is the target, of which we already have over £600. This covers the cost of the apparatus, installation and training. Cash or cheques can be given in at the Library. Cheques should be made out to `Hypatia Trust defibrillator account’. Please support us – it might be you!” 


Lisa Di Tommaso



Upcoming events at the Morrab Library 


Please don’t try and book until the event has been advertised by the Library (approximately one month before the event date).




Friday 21st February 10.30am – tickets still available

Children’s event: Super Storytime with Jak Stringer





Wednesday 4th March 2.00pm – limited tickets still available

A talk, live performance and Q&A by Tunde Jegede on the life and times of 19th century composer and violinist, Joseph Antonio Emidy


Saturday 14th March – 11.00am  – 3.00pm – FULLY BOOKED

Study Day: Ways Into Writing with Anna Murphy


Thursday 19th March 11.00am – 1.00pm

Drop in and chat with five NHS medical students as they present individual displays on a range of topics on medical history, including Sir Humphry Davy’s contribution to the development of anaesthesia, the artist Bryan Pearce’s medical condition and how it affected his art, health beliefs during the time of the plague, Leonardo Da Vinci and his studies of anatomy, and the Theory of the Four Humours.




Saturday 4th April 10.15am – 1.15pm

Study morning: Art and Music in the Tudor Century with Mark Cottle


Wednesday 8th April 2.00pm

Talk: Meet the  occupants of the Elizabeth Treffry Room

Speaker: Maggi Livingstone




Wednesday 13th May 2.00pm

Talk: Dylan Thomas

Speaker: Jak Stringer and Linda Camidge


Friday 29th May 10.30am

Children’s event: Super Storytime with Jak Stringer



Wednesday 10th June 2.00pm

Talk: Being an Artist-in-Residence at Morrab Library

Speaker: Karen Lorenz


Saturday 13th June 11.00am

Talk: The Jews in Cornwall: evacuation from the East End

Speaker: Susan Soyinka


Saturday 20th June 10.00am – 2.00pm

Morrab Library Summer Fete




Wednesday 15th July 2.00pm

Talk: Naval History

Speaker: Professor Andrew Lambert




Wednesday 7th October 2.00pm

Talk: The Building of Buckfast Abbey

Speaker: Mark Cottle




Saturday 21st November 10.00am – 2.00pm

Morrab Library Christmas Fair


Saturday 28th November 1.30-3.30

Morrab Library Volunteer Thankyou Afternoon Tea




Saturday 19th December 1.00pm-4.00pm

Morrab Library Christmas Party