Literacy events are located in time and space. Reading and writing are things which people do, either alone or with other people, but always in a social context-always in a place and at a time. To make sense of people’s literacy practices we need to situate them within this context. When Cliff Holt or Mumtaz Patel (these names are pseudonyms-see Aside 4.3) or any of the other people we interviewed walk to the library, they walk through a town which has roots going back two thousand years, whose city centre streets were laid out in medieval times. They set out from Victorian houses, and in visiting the library they go to an institution established in Lancaster in the eighteenth century and whose practices date back much further. We want to explore these details of people’s literacy lives later in the book. First, we need to situate them in a place, Lancaster, and in a time, the 1990s. In this chapter we will provide some historical details of literacy in Lancaster in earlier times. In the next chapter we provide general description of Lancaster today from the point of view of our interest in literacy, including details of the main institutions associated with local literacies.