Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Dunfermline Carnegie Library

On our last full day in Edinburgh, we had the opportunity to take an optional side trip to Dunfermline.  Our hosts for our visit were knowledgeable, welcoming, and friendly.  Dunfermline is the birth place of Andrew Carnegie and the location for the first Carnegie Library.  The library is currently being refurbished with plans to build an adjoining museum onto the back.  The Dunfermline Library was opened in 1883, following a gift of 5000pounds by Andrew Carnegie in 1879 to the town for the creation of a library.  The building was later added onto in the early 1900s and again in the 1990s. 
      There is something moving about being in an empty library.  Being in a space that is usual filled with objects, people, daily goings on, that is now devoid of all that is both haunting and provides a way to better appreciate the beauty of the space.  The Dunfermline Library is beautiful.  The space is open while still being filled with bookshelves.  The historic character of the space has been preserved, and hopefully will continue to be throughout its renovation.  The original bookcases with there detailed moldings topped with carved figures, and the old fireplace give the space an inviting and cozy feel.  Upstairs in the former reference area, the vaulted wooden ceiling is spectacular.  Equally impressive is the Special Collections room, with its rich wood and closed bookshelves.  Adding to the beauty of the space our the views from the windows. 
      The former local history rooms were of particular interest to me.  Not only was the main room spacious, but there were an additional two rooms that had been dedicated to the storage and use of historical materials.  It was heartening to see such space and resources being dedicated to historical collections in a public library.  Coming from a country were tightening budgets often mean that local history and genealogy funding is quickly cut, it was great to see such resources being provided for these invaluable collections.
    During our visit we also had the opportunity to visit the Dunfermline Abbey, which houses the remains of Robert the Bruce.  Perhaps as equally beautiful as the Abbey were the views from the graveyard.  Scotland has some of the prettiest countryside I have seen.  Our group was also able to visit the Andrew Carnegie birthplace, which is located down the street from the Library and Abbey.  The museum, while small, makes use of modern technology to provide visitors with an informative and engaging experience.
In a follow up to this post... We made the local news!

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