Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
| Home | Contact | Events | Publications | Resources | Links | Membership | Interests | Activities | Notices |

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

17 Sep 2009 - "Ayr Carnegie Library History"

Our new season started with a welcome return visit from Tom Barclay, Senior Librarian at Ayr Carnegie Library. On this occasion he chose to give an illustrated talk on the history of the Library from the founding in 1762 of Ayr Library Society to the present day.

We learned that in 1804 this Society feued a small house in Fort Street, using the ground floor as a house and the upper floor as a library. In the first half of the 19th century, numbers using the Library began to decline as the subscription was too expensive for ordinary folk especially after they had access to the newly opened Mechanics Institute library. The Library Society added to their funds by arranging lecture programmes and it was at a meeting of its committee in 1890 that that the suggestion was made to approach the successful business man, Andrew Carnegie, to honour them with a lecture. Though Andrew Carnegie was unable to do so, he suggested that “if the town were now disposed to adopt the Free Libraries Act, I should like very much to get a suitable library building.” Within days of the town’s positive response, he made firm offers of £10,000 for a building on a site by the town. With commendable speed, the foundation stone was laid on October 5th, 1892 by Mrs Carnegie - and Ayr had its own Carnegie Library. Over the years there have been several alterations and extensions mainly rearwards towards Garden Street for a large lecture room/reference room. (Sadly the recent asset of a small refreshment area has not survived the recession, but maybe it will return in better times!) The upstairs Local History room is Tom’s domain. It is well frequented by our members to follow their own inquiries and Tom or his colleagues are always more than willing to try to answer queries and to help the uninitiated to cope with recalcitrant fiche readers etc.

Tom’s well illustrated presentation gave us a fascinating insight into the history of a well-known Ayr landmark.

John Weston

Older Postings