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Scottish Architecture. Stirling Central Library.

In 1893 a Committee began work in Stirling to promote the formation of a free library. There had been libraries in the town before, with the earliest record dated 1617. One of the most notable was in the Athenaeum (The Steeple) at the top of King Street which opened in January 1817. It was a subscription library however and usage was dependent on the individual having money to be a member.

In 1893, Provost George Kinross of Stirling wrote to the successful steel manufacturer Andrew Carnegie at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Carnegie had earlier financed libraries in Dunfermline, Edinburgh and Grangemouth. Eventually, on July 12th 1897, Provost Kinross received a letter offering £6000 to build a Public Library on the condition that the council adopt the free libraries act and provide a suitable site.

The building commenced in October 1901 and the library was officially opened on February 6th 1904. The first librarian, William Barker McEwan was appointed on March 18th 1903 on a salary of £80 per year.

Source: ‘The Public Library Stirling, 1904-2004: A Brief Centenary History’ by Steve Dolman


Stirling Central Library remains in the centre of the city and boasts the most visitors of all of our libraries. With a reference section upstairs, family history information, computer access, events and more, it’s well worth a visit.

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