Saturday, August 13, 2011
Dunfermline Carnegie Library
Dunfermline Library was our last library visit in Scotland, and we were able to take the train out from Edinburgh to this beautiful town. Dunfermline Carnegie Library is the first Carnegie Library and it’s no wonder: Andrew Carnegie was born and grew up in Dunfermline! The Library itself was opened in 1883 after Andrew Carnegie gave 8,000 pounds to open the Dunfermline Library. The library is a lending library and provides the services prominent in public lending libraries: public access computers, summer reading programs, exhibition rooms, children’s services and events, and of course, 59,000 items in the library’s collection for use by the public.
We heard a great deal from our knowledgeable guide about the history of the library and of the most interesting stories were about the first day the library opened; by the end of the day, not a single book was left in the building. That just goes to show that Carnegie knew what he was doing in funding a much-needed library in his hometown.
Not only did we see the services of the library, we also were allowed to see the special collections. The library has a large Robert Burns collection donated to the library back in the 1930s, featuring paintings, sketches, busts, engravings, etc. The library also hold valuable editions of famous works, including Shakespeare’s second folio from 1632, Milton’s Paradise Lost ( 4th edition), works by Chaucer, and a Latin Bible from 1491.
The Dunfermline Carnegie Library also has a local history collection that provides plenty of books, photographs, newspapers, journals, and maps specific to Dunfermline This collection is perfect for those doing family history research. One of the issues faced at the library is lack of space for growing collections. The local council at Dunfermline is working to get the library funding to connect with the museum and archives of Dunfermlime, thus relieving the library of the space currently holding boxes of archives, maps, and photographs.
It was exciting for me to visit the very first Carnegie library, in his hometown, no less. The Dunfermline library is doing the most to enhance upon Carnegie’s vision of providing the town with a quality lending library.