The exhibition had its origin as part of "Glasgow, U.K. City of Architecture and Design 1999". It was then expanded to highlight the architectural history of the world's earliest Carnegie libraries which were situated in Andrew Carnegie's birthplace in Dunfermline and other nearby towns on the Firth of Forth, including Edinburgh, Grangemouth and Stirling.

At Mitchell Library, Glasgow

At Mitchell Library, Glasgow

At the Glasgow Room of the Mitchell Library


Bookmark issued by Mitchell Library for Glasgow UK city of Architecture 1999.

The exhibition also had items comparing and contrasting the styles used in the United States and Scotland for their libraries built in the same era. The Scottish libraries vary in form from the Baroque extravagance of some of Glasgow's libraries, through the universally popular neo-classical, to the intricacies of Scots Baronial architecture.

I was delighted with the response the exhibition received in the visitors' books, with many of the comments coming from England and the United States.

Drawing of dome of Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Copper-clad dome of Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum

At the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline.

The exhibition moved on to the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum where, as in Glasgow, they displayed library memorabilia from their own collection. The cases shown in the photograph contained a casket and ceremonial trowel presented to Andrew Carnegie at opening ceremonies of the new libraries.

I have dedicated a web page to my great-grandfather, John Blaikie, who was a Carnegie Hero in 1911.
When the exhibition was showing at the museum, the page of the illuminated Roll of Honour where John Blaikie's name appears was displayed, surrounded by my library drawings.

Mitchell Library

Mitchell Library, Glasgow
Opened 16th October 1911

Stephen Mitchell

The Mitchell Library, where my exhibition was shown in 1999, is one of the largest municipal reference libraries in Western Europe. Andrew Carnegie contributed £26,000, half of the total construction costs, in February 1905. He laid the memorial foundation stone at a ceremony on 17th September 1907, four years before its completion.

The original library was the result of a bequest in May 1874 from Mr. Stephen Mitchell (left), who had manufactured tobacco products in the city. This benefaction was to be used to establish a public library in Glasgow "chiefly for the purposes of reference and consultation". It was housed in buildings in Ingram Street and Miller Street until the present building was opened.

Mitchell Library c.1912

The design competition attracted nearly 70 entries. The winning architect, William. B. Whitie, produced plans for a building in a restrained Baroque style for this city showpiece. Whitie would have known that this kind of architecture was admired by both the City Librarian, Francis. T. Barrett and the City Engineer, A. B. McDonald, who had overseen the design competitions for the earlier branch libraries. J.R. Rhind, who had designed most of the city's suburban libraries, was one of the unsuccessful entrants in the competition for the Mitchell.

The library was formally opened by Lord Rosebery on 16th October 1911.

St Andrews Halls

The exhibition was displayed in the huge 1981 extension, built on the site of St Andrews Halls (left) which were destroyed by fire in October 1962. The only part of the old building to survive was the colonnaded façade which was blended into the stonework of the new building. The expanded complex includes a conference suite and theatre as well as exhibition space.
The library now has shelf space for over 4 million books, much of which is accommodated in 3 levels of basement stores.

Dome at Govanhill Library

The Carnegie Libraries

 Andrew Carnegie
His Scottish Connections

 Early Carnegie Libraries
The First in the World

 American Libraries
A Comparative Study

 Scottish Architecture
Home-grown Style

 Edwardian Renaissance
Architectural Elegance

 Baroque Extravagance
J.R. Rhind in Glasgow

 Library Architecture
Diverse Designs

 Inside the Libraries
Photographs from 1907

 Carnegie Hero
John Blaikie in 1911

Landmarks of Literacy


 England, Ireland, USA
Architecture outside Scotland -

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