Jedburgh Library

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Jedburgh Library
Jedburgh Library in 2018.jpeg
the library front
General information
Address15 Castlegate
Town or cityJedburgh
Coordinates55°28′38″N 2°33′22″W / 55.47722°N 2.55611°W / 55.47722; -2.55611Coordinates: 55°28′38″N 2°33′22″W / 55.47722°N 2.55611°W / 55.47722; -2.55611
ClientAndrew Carnegie
Design and construction
ArchitectGeorge Washington Browne
Designationslisted Cat B

Jedburgh Library is now housed in the second building built for Andrew Carnegie in Jedburgh at a cost of £1,700. There have been subscription libraries in the town since at least 1780 and at one time there were three or four.


First mention of the possibility of a library in Jedburgh dates from 1714 when Thomas Rutherfurd set aside money and a number of books which he presented to the burgh as a basis for a library. Rutherford paid for a room to be built above the school at Laighkirkyard[1] and he had his family's arms displayed above the door. The library was managed by the parish school master James Brewster. Alexander Jeffrey estimated in his 1857 history of the area that the library had started "about eighty years ago". Jeffrey records that the library's 1,500 books were sold off in 1856 at knock down prices. He blamed the management of the library who he felt had failed to engage with the public after 1835.[2] Shares in libraries in Jedburgh carried value. In 1838 a local draper, John Robison, went bankrupt. His share in "Jedburgh Library" was mentioned in the newspaper and London Gazette advert for the auction.[3]

Another library known as Waugh's library existed for sixty years up until 1837 when the books which covered a wide variety of subjects were divided amongst the library's subscribers.[2]

Members of Blackfriars church (later Trinity Church in High Street) could also gain access to the church's books.[2]

The current library dates back to a religious library that was set up in the town. The tile of "Jedburgh Library" came about after a dispute over whether non-religious books should be included.[2]

In 1841 Jedburgh's Mechanics Institute founded a library.[2]

It was reported that Jedburgh had two subscription libraries in the 1700s and a third opened in 1800. This matched nearby Kelso which also had three and Hawick had two, although most towns only had one.[4] Pigott's 1837 directory list's four libraries in Jedburgh. The first was "Easton Walter?" which was a circulating library in Abbey place. Miss Armstrong ran a library at the Old Gaol and at Old Bridge End there were two libraries, the "New Library" and "Jedburgh Library" operated by Thomas Carr and George Balfour respectfully.[5]

The first Carnegie Library still has a plaque in the High Street
The library in 2018

On 4 October 1894 Andrew Carnegie in Jedburgh gave a speech about the new library which he had funded in the town's High Street.[6] This library however proved inadequate and a new library was constructed on Castlegate where the Nag's Head Inn had stood. The new "Carnegie Library" was fronted by the town's arms and above the porch was the message "Let There be Light". The building was designed by Sir George Washington Browne and it formally opened on 24 May 1900 with Andrew Carnegie once more in attendance. It was designed to hold 12,000 books and 59 readers and rooms were set aside above for meetings and a museum. The building in now listed at Category B.[7]


  1. ^ Nicholas Dickson; William Sanderson (1913). The Border Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly. Carter & Pratt. p. 243.
  2. ^ a b c d e Alexander Jeffrey (1857). The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire and Adjacent Districts: From the Most Remote Period to the Present Time. J.F. Hope. pp. 113–117.
  3. ^ Great Britain (1838). The London Gazette. T. Neuman. pp. 926–.
  4. ^ Stephen W Brown (30 November 2011). Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Volume 2: Enlightenment and Expansion 1707-1800. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 351–. ISBN 978-0-7486-5095-8.
  5. ^ James Pigot (and co.) (1837). Pigot and co.'s national commercial directory of ... Scotland, and of the isle of Man. pp. 751–.
  6. ^ Kenneth A. Breisch (February 2003). Henry Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America: A Study in Typology. MIT Press. pp. 280–. ISBN 978-0-262-52346-2.
  7. ^ "15 CASTLEGATE, CARNEGIE LIBRARY (LB35486)". Retrieved 2018-05-22.