Monday, 26 July 2010

Dunfermline Carnegie Library

This library is the world's first Carnegie Library. Andrew Carnegie believed in people bettering themselves, so he donated his own money to build and stock libraries. The first library he built was in his home town Dunfermline, Scotland. On August 29, 1883, the cornerstone of the library was laid by Carnegie's mother, Margaret Carnegie. This would be the first of 2,509 Carnegie libraries opened in the English speaking world. Cool fact about the library is that is cost £8000 to open the library and stock the shelves. On the first day of opening, the library ran out of books.

This library was broken down into many sections. They have a local history and family research room where people can research about their families. In this room they have survey maps, newspapers for the 1830s, census records starting in 1841, Council minutes, photographs, glass negatives, and more. Also next to this room is the treasure room. This collection is non-lending and contains old sketches of the library building, hard copies of the newspapers, and books on scottish history. The books in this room have their own catalogue system. It seemed complicated, but once the person learns it, I can see it being very easy.

On the main floor is the adult lending library and it still contains the original book shelves. They offer fiction, non-fiction, talking books, newspapers, and more. There is also free internet access.

For the children's library, it was moved from its original place upstairs. Cool fact, during the war, firewatchers used to sleep and watch fires from this floor. Today, the children's library has story times, books in other languages, and books on MP3 players. The books are placed into categories, but will lead the children to understand the Dewey Decimal System. My favorite part about the children's library was how bright the walls were. They were a bright yellow and it was very welcoming to enter the library.

Upstairs is the Reference Library and special collections. The Reference material contains books on local and national maps, Scottish Parliament information, and community information. This material can't be checked out.

Next to the Reference Library is an awesome special collection. The room houses the Murison Burns collection and the George Reid collection of medieval manuscripts. The Murison Burns collection was donated in 1921 and it contains thousands of books, pictures, and artifacts all dedicated to the poet, Robert Burns. It was really neat to see. Of course, all the pictures of Burns looked actually the same since other painters and artists copied the painting of him that was made from real life. There was a statue of Burns and so much more. I really enjoyed it. Also in that room was the George Reid collection of medieval manuscripts. The manuscripts were beautiful and in great shape. This room is not open to the general public, but researchers can go in with a librarian when requested.

Each month, 20,000 books are checked out. It was an amazing library and the staff were very helpful. It's amazing how Carnegie built libraries to help people and this one is still servicing its purpose till this day. In the future, the Dunfermline Carnegie Library is hoping to once again expand the library and add a museum in 2013. I think it would be really great if they did.

To learn more about the Dunfermline Carnegie Library, please visit

Photograph was provided by the blogger.

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