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Edinburgh Central Library

Located on George IV Bridge, and rising several storeys from the Cowgate below, is Edinburgh Central Public Library. Reached by its own bridge, this substantial building is by Sir George Washington Browne (1890) in the French François I style and was opened on the 9th June 1890 by Lord Rosebery (1847 - 1929). This is one of the largest of over 2000 public libraries funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1918), whose bust is displayed on the main stair-case, and was the only one in Edinburgh until the city's boundaries were extended to include Corstorphine in 1920 (Corstorphine Library having been funded by Carnegie in 1904). Edinburgh Central Library was built on the site of the 17th C house of Sir Thomas Hope, advocate to King Charles I, and lintels from this building were preserved and re-installed within the library. The motto adopted by the Carnegie libraries "Let there be light" is carved above the entrance. A book storage wing was added 1901-03 and, in 1934, the building was extended to incorporate the adjacent building which had been the headquarters of the Highland Society. The building was B-listed in 1970, but this listing was upgraded to Category-A in 2016, recognising its importance as the finest example of a Carnegie-endowed library in Scotland.

Remaining one of the largest purpose-built libraries in Scotland, the building houses significant collections of Scottish and Edinburgh-related material, including copies of parish and census records, together with other information of interest to those undertaking family history research.


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