DUMBARTON LIBRARY, Strathleven Place, Dumbarton.
ACCESS : Easy access for all, although there are a few steps at the main door, that mean the less ambulant need assistance. Ample parking. Near bus stops and railway.
Dumbarton Town Centre Conservation Area.
Dumbarton's library is located on Strathleven Place near the Glasgow Road roundabout. As such it can feel a little isolated, but it is really easy to get to using the crossings and underpasses.
The older section is Victorian in form and detailing, typpically borrowing various elements from classical architecture such as heavy coursing of the grey sandstone, columns and vaulted entranceway. It has the prerequisite putti above a window and a balustraded parapet. As with public buildings of the day, the entrance is reached up stairs; the whole main floor being raised up above ground level; a basement below. There is no doubt that this is the town's main library : "PUBLIC LIBRARY" is carved into the feature lintel supported by those classical columns. And below that is a carved scroll with leaves surrounding a shield bearing Dumbarton's symbolic elephant bearing its castle on its back.
The interior has features such as a large vaulted hall with pilasters and ornate rooflights. Panels on each side of the entrance foyer note :
Dumbarton Public Library
This building was the gift of
Andrew Carnegie LL.D.
Opened 26th Sept 1910.
Dumbarton Public Library
1881 Archibald Robertson
1887 John Rankin
1891 Rev W Stevens D.D.
1901 Wm H Henderson
1913 Peter Thomson
1937 Robert McArthur
1950 Fergus Roberts
1962 I.M.M.MacPhail M.A., Ph.D.
1974 D Lynch J.P., C.Eng., D.R.T.C.
But time, usage and tastes change. Most of the bookshelves and librarian counter are in a very different modernist style as is the extension. Although contrasting and utilitarian, they do not distract too much from the ornate original building.
There is very little information on the library building. Geograph.org though gives some information of its establishment. It is surprising to find a memorial that looks like an old stone gable built into the side door of the modern section. The apex has crown. Below that is engraved
and in less formal engraving on the lintel
The library has a good collection of books. There is a heritage section covering local and broader history and facilities for family history research. Some items are available digitally. A selection of books on local history are available for sale.
There are some historical items, documents and other information on display too.
Lairich Rig has identified this as the gable of the McKenzie House which stood next to the Tolbooth in the High Street. See index.asp?pageid=733982
HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND website for listed buildings : http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB22987
NATIONAL ARCHIVES website covering Dumbarton Library : https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/a?_ref=597
WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COUNCIL website : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/libraries/library-branches/dumbarton-library/