Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dunfermline Public Library 20 July 2010

After a supremely restful night at Brothaigh House B&B and a marvelous breakfast, Dara and Andrew and I departed for Dunfermline in County Fife to visit the first Carnegie library.

Established by a grant of 8,000 pounds (and three offers) this library opened on 29 August 1883 and was the first of the over 2,500 libraries that Carnegie would endow. The funds initially provided by Carnegie were to provide for both the building and stocking of the library shelves. The library ran out of books on the day it opened. By 1904 the original finding had run out and a deal between the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and the Town Council was created to keep the library running. The first expansion of the original space was completed in 1922 which retained the Entrance Hall and Abbot Street frontage and added a large Lending Hall on the ground floor along with a staircase tower. This addition almost doubled the capacity of the space. A second large addition was opened in 1993 which included meeting and exhibition spaces and a new entrance with a lift making accessibility to all levels possible.

Today, the Dunfermline populace may not be all that conscious of being the first of the Carnegie libraries, but it is the county's largest and busiest. The collection includes around 64,000 items and issues between 20-27,000 books per month. Free internet access is also available with 23 public workstations available throughout the library. The lending library is currently on the ground floor, previously it was upstairs where the Reference Dept. currently resides. The lending collection includes selections in Chinese, Urdu and Polish. The catalog for the in-house collection is available on-line and also provides access to material available county-wide.

The Children's library was opened in the 1930's to offer services to young readers. Prior to this, reading groups were available through local community centers. The children's library was initially part of the main building, but was moved to the extension in 1993. Some of the programs offered by this library include story and rhymetime for 0-2 years, craft time, school and nursery school visits and internet access. The Abbey room which once housed the music collection (which has been discontinued in all libraries) is currently used for exhibition space.

The local history room offers a huge collection of information to local historians and geneologists alike. Resources available in this section include local newspapers, census returns, maps, photographs and information on local business. The Special collections room was opened in 1922 as part of the new addition and houses the Erskine Beveridge collections of books and a collection of medieval manuscripts and early printed books donated by George Reid. Also housed with these items is the Murrison Burns Collection and Robert Henryson Collection.

We received a very informative and fairly easy-paced tour. The guides were very helpful and were more than happy to answer as many questions as we liked. I found it particularly interesting to speak to a younger librarian about her career choices and goals in the context of work in librarianship in the UK. I became fascinated by the Book Prescription program - a program in conjunction with NHS to provide additional health information in a non-threatening and safe space to community members. I found this idea so interesting, I determined to use it as the basis of my paper.

Following our delightful tour, many of us headed out into Dunfermline for lunch or sight-seeing. Many of us wandered the grounds of the Abbey. The ruins and churchyard were simply breathtaking and I know that I shot more pictures of the grounds and ruins than I ought. Even with the groundskeepers working away, it was a very restful place.

1 comment:

  1. Love your pics. I hope you had time to see the park/gardens behind the Abbey.