Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dunfermline Carnegie Library - 07/20/10

This library is the first Carnegie Library ever built in the world. Opened in 1883, this library would be the first of over 2,500 libraries with contributions by Carnegie. 8,000 pounds were provided to this building and it's collection of books. A reading room was provided for ladies where only "appropriate" material was available. It is the largest and most used library in the county of Fife in Scotland.

Displays are set up like in a bookstore. and the library includes a lending library, children's library, and the Abbey Room. A portrait of Carnegie, by James Archer hangs in this room. For anyone interested in Andrew Carnegie here is a link from a PBS special: There is also the Millennium Quilt which was sewn by a group of ladies known as the Dunfermline Quilting Circle, it shows the history of Dunfermline. A tapestry and other artwork can also be found here. In the children's library, which opened in the 1930's, windows and bright colors decorate the room. There is storytelling, school visits, author visits, and sometimes the local zoo will bring in small insects or animals for the children to view. Baby and toddler "rhymetimes" are also performed. The Abbey Room used to be the music room, but they have now been discontinued. Instead the space is being used as a place for exhibits. It currently has a large Egyptian sarcophagus and previously exhibited a "local heroes" venue.

A local histoy room provides the private collection of Erskine Beveridge, a manufacturer from Dunfermline. Family and Local history research is also available. Maps, books, slides, and pictures can all be found here, as well as newpapers, census papers, and a mining memorial book. There are 28 staff members, who for the last year have been ttrying to get everything catalogued and placed online. This would provide access at home, as the material in this section of the library is for reference only and cannot be borrowed outside of the library.

The special collections department opened in 1922. It holds the Murrison Burns collection and Robert Henryson Collection. I was able to view lots of great items here including works by Thomas Aquines from 1471, a 4th edition of Milton's "Paradise Lost" from 1588, Shakespeare's 2nd folio, as well as some of his poems, and Chaucer's works dated from 1602. There are also several graduals, books of hours, two Wedgewood busts of Burns of which there are only ten in existence, and a pontifical from Florence dated 1520. It was a great collection and the librarian was very enthusiastic about her job!

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