Throughout the First World War there was a concerted effort to keep the educational purpose of the library intact. At the start of the war, one of the Lit and Phils earliest contributions to the war effort was to lend rooms to the Armstrong College for use of classes, the use of the library to all Armstrong College students attending classes in Bolbec Hall, Neville Hall, and the use of the ladies room, the record room and the smoking room as common space. This combined war effort with the educational ethos of the Lit and Phil.
What is more intriguing is the continuation of extension lectures and talks throughout the war years. In the end of year report for 1918 it states that “during the four and a quarter years of the war the usual lecture courses have continued and have afforded a welcome relief to members from the stress of war conditions”. In 1914, for example, the university extension lectures went ahead with topics including ‘Representative Men of the Nineteenth Century’ and ‘England and her Neighbours in the Far East’. Although the report for this year notes that both courses gave much satisfaction and were very well received, it also tells us that few students did the paper work or sat for the examination. This was repeated in 1915, where Mr. Reynolds course exam was not sat by any student.
What this can tell us, is something of the dedication of the Lit and Phil to education during these trying years. Their commitment to continuing education courses, despite a lack of participants in the exam cycles, shows important education was considered. In the records of 1916 there is a note stating that “it may be interesting to note that each lecturer stated that the paper work done was the best he had ever received in a University Extension Course”. It was clearly important to keep a ‘business as usual attitude’ up amongst the members of the Lit and Phil, and the wider members of the public who attended the extension courses. Their emphasis on continuing education throughout WW1 undoubtedly contributed to the view that “notwithstanding war conditions, the Society has continued to flourish, and is now stronger than at any previous period of its history”