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Basic Site Details

Name: Dunfermline Carnegie Library
Town, district or village: Dunfermline
City or county: Fife
Country: Scotland
Grid ref:
Notes: DUNFERMLINE - The building plans for the Dunfermline Free Library - prepared by Mr J. C. Walker, architect, Edinburgh - have been approved and passed by the Library Committee. The plan chosen is one of three which were designed by Mr. Walker. The style is Domestic Tudor. The front is 82ft. in length, and is two stories high, with ranges of square-headed windows with single mullions, the rebates of the lower windows being plain moulded, and the upper having attached columns, with carved capitals. A moulded string-course runs along the centre of the greater part of this front, and the wall is surmounted by a plain moulded cornice filled in underneath with blocks. The principal entrance is near to the comer of this front, which at this point is treated so as to give the appearance of a square tower, and is carried a story higher than the rest of the building. The interior arrangements consist of a library-room measuring 57ft. 3in. by 25ft. 6in; recreation room, 26ft. 6in. by 25ft. 6in ; gentlemen's reading- room, 34ft. 3in. by 25ft. 6in; ladies' reading- room, 22ft. 6in. by 18ft. 10in; smoking room, 28ft. by 16ft; and a keeper's house, containing three rooms and kitchen with other necessary conveniences. The whole of the premises will be ventilated by Boyle's patent ventilators, and heated by Perkins' heating system of hot water and coils. The site and buildings are expected to cost 5,000. [Building News 17 September 1880 p341]

Mottram wrote in Shearer's Nomination Paper: 'this was rather a difficult situation an addition to a late 19th century Gothic building in local stone with some very fine ironwork to balconies etc and Scots slate roof with swept valleys which drew Sir John Burnet's praise.'

Cost of addition 2,200


The Central Library in Dunfermline was the world's first Carnegie Library.

In 1879 Andrew Carnegie had offered his native town 5000 to build a library. This library's success must have been a factor when he decided to finance a worldwide programme of almost 3000 public libraries throughout the English speaking world.

In 1904 the management of the library was taken over by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust , who completed an extension to the original building before transferring control back to the Town Council in 1922. The Trust continued, however, to contribute 400 per annum to the library until 1958, when the Council assumed the full cost of the service, including the latest library extension in 1993.

Alternative Names

The following alternative names are associated with this building/design:
 NameCurrent name?Notes
Item 1 of 1Carnegie Central Library  

Building Type Classification

The building is classified under the following categories:
 ClassificationOriginal classification?Notes
Item 1 of 1Library  

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 2Abbot StreetYes 
Item 2 of 2St Margaret StreetYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 818801883  
Item 2 of 827 July 1881 Foundation stone 
Item 3 of 825 August 1883 Opened 
Item 4 of 81906 Design exhibitedDesign for extension (Gibson)
Item 5 of 819121915 Extension down St Margaret Street - interrupted by war
Item 6 of 812 July 1913 Advertisement for tendersAddition
Item 7 of 819211922 Completion of extension after war
Item 8 of 81993 Addition 


Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 4James Campbell WalkerArchitect 18801883 
Item 2 of 4Miles Septimus GibsonArchitect 1906 Unsuccessful competition design for extension
Item 3 of 4James Grant ShearerArchitectA19121915Extension down St Margaret Street - interrupted by war
Item 4 of 4James Grant ShearerArchitectB19211922Completion of extension after war


The following individuals or organisations have commissioned work on this building/design:
Item 1 of 2Carnegie Dunfermline Trust 
Item 2 of 2Dunfermline Town Council 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 6Gifford, John1988Fife (The Buildings of Scotland)  p188 (Shearer work)
Item 2 of 6Reid, Alan and Kirk, William1934Royal Dunfermline 5th ed.pp87-95
Item 3 of 6Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts1906   1010
Item 4 of 6RSA1921   580
Item 5 of 6RSA1951   521
Item 6 of 6www.scotcities.com/carnegie www.scotcities.com/carnegie   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 12Architect XXIII p280
Item 2 of 12Architect1 September 1883   
Item 3 of 12Architects Journal25 April 1923LVII pp723-730
Item 4 of 12British Architect6 August 1880XIV p63
Item 5 of 12British Architect24 September 1880XIV p147
Item 6 of 12Builder CIII p56
Item 7 of 12Builder CV p75
Item 8 of 12Builder13 November 1880XXXIX p597
Item 9 of 12Building News CV p172
Item 10 of 12Building News17 September 1880XXXIX p341
Item 11 of 12Dunfermline Journal9 October 1880   
Item 12 of 12Dunfermline Journal12 July 1913   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 3Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register25979 
Item 2 of 3National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSShearer and Annand Collection H93259-62 (framed photos)
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers James Grant Shearer: L no5519 (combined box 85) and F no4072 (box 32)


© All rights reserved.   

© All rights reserved.  

© All rights reserved.   

© All rights reserved.