New chapter for world’s first Carnegie Library

May 15 2017, 8.28amUpdated: May 14 2017, 5.09pm
© SuppliedPainted edge pages of a book in the Murison Collection.
Painted edge pages of a book in the Murison Collection.

It’s believed to be one of the most stressful things anyone has to endure in life.

Moving home, that is.

So imagine it wasn’t a house of family paraphernalia you were packing and unpacking again, but an entire library’s worth.

Some 100,000 items, give or take a paperback or two.

Oh, and on top of that you were going through thousands and thousands of heirlooms and deciding which one to put on show, in pride of place in your new abode.

That’s just the task which faced library and museum staff at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries as plans were being hatched to create a £12 million centre fit for the ancient Fife town.

Priceless tomes were packed and stored — many thanks to an army of volunteers — awaiting the day the key would unlock to the new cultural hub.

The Courier was given an unique peek behind the scenes at the museum as staff prepared it for its big opening on Thursday May 18.

Local studies officer Sara Ann Kelly explained how the old — the world’s first Carnegie Library — married to the new expansion.

“Artefacts in here link the two,” she said.

Original book cases remain in the Carnegie Library, as regular book borrowers will soon find out.

But just around the corner is a brand new multi-layered Reading Room, for the more serious scholars — although with the views of Dunfermline Abbey they might be somewhat distracted.

Across the corridor — which really feels more like a street — is the children’s library with outdoor area.

Out of the public eye is a state of the art storage area, housing, among other valuable items in the special collections, the renowned Murison Burns and George Reid collections.

George Reid, a local linen manufacturer, collected rare books with his passion being medieval illuminated manuscripts.

Meanwhile, the Murison Collection is the life’s obession of Glasgow man John Murison who gifted his library to the people of Dunfermline.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show our collections,” she said.

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