Westbourne Library will be celebrating its 100th birthday this Friday with a hundred paper birthday candles signed by local residents and businesses, including the Mayor of Bournemouth, John Adams, and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns on the day. The candles will be displayed in a library window. There is even a letter from the Queen hoping 'staff and users of Westbourne Library have a very enjoyable day'.

Westbourne Library opened at the height of the Great War on May 13 1916, a time of mass destruction that saw the lives of many changed forever. The library gave the people of Westbourne ' a new centre of intellectual life and effort' , a sense of purpose against the futility of war.

"More than 21 years since the first public library was opened in Bournemouth and 13 years after Andrew Carnegie's generous gift to the town of £10,000 for the building of four libraries, Westbourne Library, planned since 1903, finally opened its doors", said Jenny Young, Westbourne Library Manager.

The opening ceremony was a prestigious event attended by the Mayor of Bournemouth alderman Henry Robson, the Libraries Committee and Mr J A Longden without whose generosity the library would never have been built.

"Westbourne had been waiting for many years for a replacement to the temporary, makeshift Library and reading Room in Poole Road, however, Andrew Carnegie's offer came with the condition that 'no charge should fall upon the library rate for the purchasing or leasing of a site'", said Jenny.

At Westbourne the difficulty was not only finding the money, but also acquiring a suitable plot of land. In 1914 the Carnegie Trust withdrew their offer due to the lack of progress in finding a site, but after an appeal in the local papers Mr Longden purchased the site, the north portion of the garden of Wilton House on Alum Chine Road, and gifted it to Bournemouth Council.

At the opening ceremony, the Mayor was presented with a commemorative silver-gilt key by the architect Mr C T Miles, and Mr Longden, the borrower of the first book 'Bournemouth 1810-1910'.

The new library consisted of a news room, magazine room and lending library fitted with stands for 2,000 volumes. The walls, or red brick with Poulton stone dressing were of grey distemper and the woodwork stained dark green and varnished. The cost of the build by Messrs. Barnes & Pond was £1,887.

During the Second World War a room in the library was used as a War Damage Office for the borough. The well-known British primatologist, Dame Jane Goodall, often visited the library in the 1940s when she attended Poole's Uplands School.

"It was not until 1963 that the library began opening full time. In 1966 it closed for three weeks to allow for extensive alteration and modernisation, which included a new floor and front entrance. In 1976 Westbourne Library became a listed building and in the same year it was named 'Library of the Year' when still part of Dorset County Libraries", said Jenny.

Plans were drawn up during the early 1990s to extend the library and the adjoining site formerly occupied by the Many Waters guest house which was purchased and then demolished. The extended library was officially opened by Countess Della Jones MBE in 1992.

The years since have required libraries to keep pace with the changing modern world. In 2001 local celebrity Max Bygraves opened the Westbourne Library Community Learning Centre, when public access to computers became a necessity for modern living.

"Today the library has developed into a community hub, offering a venue for educational classes, meetings, CAB advice and legal services, whilst providing computer training, children's rhyme sessions, coffee mornings, reading groups and much more. However, the Mayor's words spoken at the time, 'A public library fills a very great place in the education and recreation of any community in which it might be placed', still resonate today", said Jenny.

Southbourne Library, who are celebrating their 90th birthday this year, was originally a Wesleyan Chapel, but opened as a library in 1926 by the Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Harry John Thwaites at a cost of £1730 to convert and fit. In 2015 it was renamed Pokesdown and Southbourne Library to reflect the fact that it is sited in Pokesdown.

Westbourne Library celebrations from 10.30 - 4pm include 'bake-off' cake and birthday card competitions awards, Big Birthday Bounce for younger children, the final paper candle signing and a talk and display on the history of Westbourne by Michael Stead.

The Southbourne Library Royal Tea Party on Saturday from 10 - 12pm will also be sharing old pictures and memories of Southbourne.