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Dunfermline Carnegie Library

Located on Abbot Street in Dunfermline, this was the first in a worldwide network of libraries to be endowed by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1911). Carnegie offered £8000 to his home town in 1879 and the foundation stone was laid by his mother on 27th July 1881. The library was opened two years later by Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847 - 1929). The B-listed building was constructed in a restrained French Gothic or Domestic Tudor style by architect J.C. Walker, the interior is tunnel-vaulted. It was extended to almost double its original size 1914-21 and a further extension was opened in 1993.

An instant success, the library had issued more than 2000 books by the end of its first day. However the Town Council found it difficult to maintain the service and, in 1904, the management of the library was taken on by the recently-formed Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. The library was returned to the Town Council in 1922 and it is now operated by Fife Council, forming the headquarters of West Fife library network. It includes a Local History Room, Children's and Music Libraries, together with exhibition areas and meeting rooms.

The library holds two collections of particular note; the George Reid collection of mediaeval manuscripts and early printed books and the Murison Burns collection. Reid was a local linen manufacturer who collected illuminated manuscripts dating from the 13th century and rare books such as an early edition of Thomas Aquinas' Summae Theologicae printed in Mainz in 1472, a copy of Euclid's Elements Geometriae printed in Venice in 1482 and Isolario an atlas of islands also printed in Venice in 1547. The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust acquired the collection in 1903 and placed it in the library in 1921.

The Murison Burns Collection had been assembled by a Glasgow-born seedsman John Murison and includes some 1500 volumes. It was acquired for the library in 1921 by engineer Sir Alexander Gibb (1872 - 1958).


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