Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dunfermline Carnegie Library

Well, I am sorry to say that I have returned from my trip. There was so much happening at the end, what with the mini-break and trying to cram everything into the last few days in London, that I got a little behind in the library blog entries. Along with the following entry, I will have two additional entries.

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library, part of the 52 branch Fife Libraries system, is the first of over 2,500 Carnegie libraries in the world. This library is part of the focus for my research paper, which will compare the first Carnegie to a Carnegie in the United States.

The Dunfermline Library officially opened on 29 August 1883 in Andrew Carnegie's hometown (visitors interested in Carnegie's life may stop by the nearby Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum). It was such a success that it ran out of books on the first day! The Library has continued to be popular and has required additions to be built to add more space. A children's room was added on in the 1930s and another addition was constructed in the early 1990s. A museum and art gallery will be added in the near future.

Before our tour I took the opportunity to wander around the Library by myself. The Library used the Dewey Decimal System, and, like other UK libraries, had headings above each section to note their contents. Interestingly, I did not notice any DVDs in the building and later learned that they were not carried at the Dunfermline Library but were available for request from other libraries in the system. After my self-guided tour of the ground floor, our class met up again and we were split into two groups. My group's tour guide, Stephanie, showed us around the Library. In addition to the main lending area and the children's room, the Library is also home to a local and family history room, a reference room, and a special collections room. The local and family history room contained such items as ordnance survey maps, valuation rolls, council minutes, and photographs, all catalogued separately from other Library materials. We were given the opportunity to see the closed stacks area, where more valuable materials are kept. We then moved on the the reference room, part of the original Library structure. Next door to this room was the special collections room, not originally intended for that purpose, and only opened by appointment. In this area was the Murison Burns Collection, containing books and memorabilia about Robert Burns collected by the Scot John Murison.

At the end of the tour we were very kindly served refreshments and had the opportunity to talk further with our guides. I very much enjoyed the Dunfermline Library. I look forward to learning and writing more about this library in my research paper.

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