Dunfermline, Scotland is a quaint, picturesque town ('city' in the 10th Century!, I was informed by a local!) that ushered out the national hero Robert the Bruce, being his resting place in the abbey church, and, welcomed to the world quintessential industrialist Andrew Carnegie as he was born there to a working class textile family.
We began the day by taking a bus from Edinburgh, and I got the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Welsh, my adviser, and talk with her for the 45 or so minute trip about my research paper. We first toured the abbey, which is a glorious early Gothic style with real choppy, blocky, and still in Romanesque mindset flying buttresses. Robert the Bruce's brass engraving gleams as if brand new...his memory is still strongly venerated for his leadership in Scottish independence. Interestingly enough, the vote for independence from the United Kingdom is currently on the ballet in Parliament.
Next, Dr.s Welsh, Griffis and I walked to the Carnegie statue which was very inspirational and informative. It's been such a pleasure being on this trip with Dr. Griffis, who has so much passion and knowledge about Carnegie libraries. We got to talk extensively, although not enough, about the intricacies of that evolutionary period in library history. It is apparent that the residents of Dunfermline are truly proud of their native son.
After a wonderful little lunch in an ancient abbey building, we met up at one of the auxiliary buildings for the very first Carnegie Library. After a century of service as a library, it is currently stripped of books and furniture in order to undergo a massive change. The interior of the structure will be refurbished and a new section is going to be added, doubling the interior size. This will give room for a museum dedicated to the Carnegie Library System and then still allow room for it to be a working library. The regional government has taken lead in this project and it is concerning that many of the local workers have not been consulted about the plans, seeing as though they will be the people effected and they have the best ideas, through direct experience, of what will work and what needs to be rethought.
This first Carnegie Library is a stunning masterpiece of local craftsmanship and design. From its entryway carved stonework stating “Let There Be Light”, to the interior stone fireplace mantlepieces, hidden doors, wooden animals and gargoyle, the structure, is by its very manifestation, a synergistic work of art.