Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dunfermline Carnegie Library--July 20, 2010

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library was the first Carnegie Library ever built. Dunfermline was Andrew Carnegie's hometown and he chose it as the location for his first (of 2,509 total) philanthropic libraries. It opened in 1883 to great fanfare. The library has been expanded twice (in 1922 and then again in 1992).

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library is part of the Fife Council Libraries. The library system includes 14 locations in West Fife and 52 total locations across Fife.

The library features a local and family history reference collection. This collection includes items such as maps, newspapers, parish registers, census records, local counsel minutes, photographs, and postcards. Holdings of the local newspaper go back to 1859 and census records go back to 1841.

The collection of photographs numbers several thousand and was mostly obtained through donations. The library also owns a set of glass negatives donated by a local photographer. Photocopies of the photographs are kept in binders and are available for patrons to view. The actual photographs are kept in storage.

The library has two major special collections: The George Reid Collection and the John Murison Collecion.

The Reid Collection includes a small collection medieval illuminated manuscripts and a collection of early printed books.

The Murison Collection features books and memorabilia focusing on Robert Burns. The heart of the collection is Murison's private library. He collected books by and about Robert Burns. He also collected objects and memorabilia relating to Burns or his work, including portraits.

Late in his life, Murison sold the collection to Sir Alexander Gibb. Gibb purchased the collection for the town of Dunfermline.

The lending library is located in a large, airy, historic room. The collection includes a large selection of fiction and non-fiction. Foreign language materials are also available, including Chinese, Urdu, and Polish.

The children's area is colorful and friendly. Simple subject headings on signs help to augment the Dewey numbers on the non-fiction books.

The children's area hosts storytimes and does outreach work with schools and nurseries.

The library provides programming for both adults and children. Adult programs include knitting groups, author events, book groups, speakers of local interest, and a Reader's Day (held every year in November.

Some locations offer beginning computer classes for adults. Participants are given a certificate upon successful completion of the course. This has been very popular, especially with elderly patrons.

The Fife council libraries are participating in an interesting public service program called the Book Prescription Scheme. It allows medical providers to write prescriptions for self-help books to help patients work through mild to moderate emotional and psychological problems. The patient can bring the confidential prescription to the library and check out the prescribed book for an extended loan period. I think this seems like a very interesting idea and I wonder if has been tried anywhere in the States. If it hasn't I wonder if it could work. This article talks a little more about the results of the program in Fife.

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