An innovation unusual at that time was gyy men and women shared the reading rooms as Rock believed that separate facilities would encourage women to gossip rather than read. The gate piers and gates with the bases of dolphin lamp posts adjacent to the building are separately listed.
The Librarian lived in the building, a requirement that lasted until the s. In addition to functioning as a library and museum, the building served as an informal records office for Barnstaple.
Behind the building on the river front there is a small garden loooking by iron railings having spearhead uprights and standards; these railings form part of the listed status for the property. The museum collection remained, and was loaned to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, which took over the space.
In the library collection was moved to the sst8 built North Devon Library and Record Office. Constructed in red brick with dressings of stone and terracottathe hipped and slated roof has a flat central section which is set with ornamental iron railings together with 5 red brick chimneys with stone caps.
The building is square and is built round an internal courtyard with on the right on the building's North side a small service wing which may actually be a former coach-house with a walled courtyard behind. On display in the prehistory gallery are some tusk and bone fragments while whole teeth were taken to the Natural History Museum in London. The gates and gate piers are Grade II listed The garden railings form part of the building's listed status The structure was built in for William Thorne, but sold to the Barnstaple Bridge Trust in who then sold it to William Frederick Rock.