Whereas libraries of various kinds have existed for thousand of years, it is only in modern times that special collections and services within them have been devoted specifically to the reading needs of children. Public children's library development before the 1890s was piecemeal. The 'coming of age' of the children's library coincided with the emergence of new ideas, in the late-Victorian and Edwardian years, concerning children and childhood. Even allowing for the dangers of retrospective history, compared with today's children's libraries, as well as those of the inter-war period, spaces for children in the late-nineteenth century seem at first glance stern, barren, uninspiring, mean and dull. Children's libraries were sometimes segregated into boys' and girls' rooms/spaces, the former being more numerous than the latter. British librarians believed they should take a cue from the nurturing, sympathetic environments created in American children's libraries.