Libraries across the country have started a new chapter this week as they open once more following the easing of Covid restrictions. As we look back through the decades our archives are full of memories of Tayside libraries from back in the day with everything from protests, sit ins and even an air raid shelter thrown in for good measure!
Dundee Central Library, based in the Wellgate, was never just for books. Here in February 1989 The Kids Art Show took place in the venue. Pictured below are some of the young artists along with some quite horrifying cartoon characters!
The Wellgate Central Library had children at the forefront of what they were doing, and, below, in 1986 kids of all ages were seen enjoying the facilities on offer at the library including some very large pencil statues.
Staff at the library would also often entertain the city’s kids with book readings. Here Ann Todd reads stories to the children from Bellfield Nursery in September 1974. Ann and her colleague Vivienne Walker would tell stories to under 5’s three times a week.
Libraries have often been an incredibly important part of local communities and they were even more at the forefront in previous decades. Residents of Broughty Ferry were campaigning to save the area’s library after it was threatened which closure – around 50 people turned up in August 1981 with their placards in tow. In 1981 the Broughty Ferry Library Action Committee led a campaign to keep Broughty Ferry Library open. As a result of legal action by the committee the library could only be closed by pursuing further action in the courts and so remained open.
Residents of Monifieth were also outraged at closure threats in September 1981 and held their own protest by refusing to leave the premises and taking part in a sit in. The sit in was effective and the library still operates to this day.
Below in September 1969 one local was exploring the book selection at Douglas Public Library. By the looks of it he decided on the W W Jacobs selection of short stories named Light Freights – no it wasn’t a book about weightless cargo!
Blackness Library is seen below in 1949. It is strange seeing this junction with only one car travelling on the road – nowadays you would see plenty making their way to Perth Road.
The Blackscroft Library and Garden is in full view back in 1960. Although many of us may not remember the venue as holding books and more likely remember it holding beers as the Reading Rooms, the building remains one of Dundee’s most iconic locations.
You can find many interesting, unusual and unexpected things in libraries. However, possibly one of the most unusual items is the Air Raid Shelter and Post which is located at the Coldside Library. Here an inspection to the shelter was carried out in May 1995.
Staff at Menzieshill Library celebrate 25 years of reading at the venue in December 1994. It must have broken each of their hearts to see that many books on the floor knowing full well they would have to arrange them back in to the correct system as soon as the photographer left.