Leadhills Library re-opens after major restoration

New look...for one of Britains's oldest libraries      (Picture by Andrew Foley)
New look...for one of Britains's oldest libraries (Picture by Andrew Foley)

LEADHILLS Library, the first library in Britain for working people, has reopened after a major restoration programme.

“The library which was founded in 1741 is the first and oldest subscription library in Britain and can fairly claim to be the world’s first library for working people,” said John Crawford, who chairs the Leadhills Heritage Trust.

“Two hundred years ago there were libraries like Leadhills all over Scotland but it is one of the few that survives.

“The organisational methods which the library pioneered were copied all over Scotland.”

As a subscription library, the public paid to join and it was run by a committee.

“The library building was erected in 1791 and is one of the oldest public library buildings in Scotland,” he said.

“Over 2,500 volumes of the original stock still survive and represent a history of reading by ordinary people over a period of 300 years.

“The library holds many first editions and examples of Scottish fine printing.”

Public reading in Scotland began with the Bible, and readers then moved on to other religious books and non-fiction.

The restoration started at the beginning of March.

Over £15,000 was obtained in matching funding from Scotland and Southern Energy and Awards for All, a National Lottery Fund, while Lord Andrew Hopetoun funded a burglar alarm.