Goss, Charles William Frederick (1864-1946) librarian and bibliographer

ADMINISTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Charles William Frederick Goss was born in Denmark Hill in 1864, and at the age of 16 moved to Birkenhead, where he became a junior assistant in the local public library. At the age of 23 he was appointed sub-librarian at Newcastle upon Tyne Public Library, and in December 1890 was chosen from among nearly 300 applicants as first librarian of Lewisham, where he took up the post in February 1891. Goss took an active interest in Library Association affairs and , intensely disatisfied with the existing leadership, Goss and several London colleagues formed the Society of Public Librarians in 1895.

Following a dispute with a local dignitary over public library services in Lewisham, Goss was forced to resign and shortly after in August 1897 became the librarian of the Bishopsgate Institute. In 1901 Goss installed the indicator system of closed access within the lending library after years of thefts and was involved over following years in a bitter 'Battle of the Books' conducted in the pages and correspondence columns of library periodicals between advocates of closed and open access public libraries. The Society of Public Librarians and Goss remained firm advocates of closed access. He also built the collections at the Institute library and remained a keen and active local historian.

His publications included Crosby Hall: a chapter in the History of London (1908), The London Directories, 1677-1855 (1932) and A Descriptive Bibliography of the Writings of George Jacob Holyoake (1908). Goss retired as Librarian of the Institute in 1941 and died in 1946.


  • Personal material concerning the life and family of Charles Goss, including typescript chronology, information regarding his home in Kevington, birth and marriage certificates, articles on Goss by C.W.J.Harris and photographs of Goss at various stages of his career, c1891 - 2001
  • Papers concerning the professional career of Goss, including papers concerning his appointment as librarian at the Bishopsgate Institute, annotated copies of his books Crosby Hall: A Chapter in the History of London and The London Directories, 1677-1855 with correpondence used in their completion and letters concerning Goss's activities, 1832 - 1968
  • Press cuttings of letters, articles and book reviews by Goss from various newspapers on topics including librarianship, biography, Christmas and the benefits of novel reading, along with cuttings of reviews of Goss' works Crosby Hall: A Chapter in the History of London, The London Directories, 1677-1855 and A Descriptive Bibliography of the Writings of George Jacob Holyoake, 1889 - 1936

EXTENT: 2 boxes