Louis Stanley Jastrzębski [1868-1944]


Louis Stanley Jastrzębski MA was born in Halifax, a son of Stephen Louis Jastrzębski.

He was educated at Mr Field's Academy, Halifax, and at King's College London. Like his brother Thaddeus, he was intended for a career in the Civil Service, but he failed the required exam. He became well-known as a librarian and a supporter of the library system.

In April 1887, he was appointed a librarian at Halifax Public Library, then located in the New Assembly Rooms, Harrison Road, at a salary of 10/- per week. His organising ability was recognised and in charge of the branch library at Akroydon.

In 1892, he joined the Library Association, and soon became prominent in debates when great changes were being made in library methods. He was one of the first advocates of open access to books by the public, and of classed catalogues on cards in public libraries. He was honorary secretary of the Library Association [1905 to 1915], and he was president [1930].

In 1892, he was appointed Peterborough City Librarian, where he introduced the Dewey Decimal Classification System of cataloguing the books.

In 1898, he was appointed Chief Librarian of Croydon Public Library, where he introduced the telephone and extended the reference library, to make it accessible to the public.

In 1915, he was appointed deputy chief librarian at Manchester, and he became Chief Librarian [1920]. He was involved in the design of the circular Central Library there. In 1926, he published The Planning of a Great Library, which shows an American influence gained through his travels to the USA. He retired in 1931, shortly before the new library opened. In 1932, he received the honorary degree of MA from Manchester University.

He was recognised for his work in the Little Theatre movement and in the Unnamed Society, of which he was the first president and in its early days, one of its most accomplished actors. He wrote several plays for the Unnamed Society.

In 1889, he became a fellow of the Theosophical Society. In 1891, he and his brother, Bogdan were founder members of the Bradford Theosophical Society. In 1941, he wrote a popular guide to theosophy entitled What it all means.

In 1895, he shortened his surname to Jast, a form which had been used by his friends.

During World War I, he met Ethel Winifred Austin (1873-1918), a great champion of the National Library for the Blind, and they became engaged, but she died before they could marry.

In 1925, he married Millicent Beatrice Murby [1873-1951], an amateur actress who had produced his plays. She had been a member of the executive committee of the Fabian Society, alongside H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. In 1908, she published a pamphlet for the Society, entitled The Common Sense of the Woman Question.

He wrote several books, plays, poems, papers and pamphlets.

He was interested in walking, and he was president of the Manchester Ramblers' Federation for a time. He often visited the Halifax district, to stay with his old colleague Edward Green, and gave several lectures in the town.

He and his wife moved to Beckington (near Bath), Twickenham, and Penzance, then back to Twickenham, where he died

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 12:41 / 2nd February 2023 / 5856

Page Ref: MMJ316

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