Keighley Library

1904    – Bradford, England. Lat/Long 53.86805556 -1.91

The first grant offered for a library in England dates back to 1899 and was won through a personal application from a local lord, Sir Swire Smith, who had visited Carnegie at his Scottish home, Skibo Castle.[i]. Whilst local papers boasted that the library had the largest newsroom in the country, the architects made strong historic references in its design also. An excellent drawing of the building’s façade, which borrows its treatment of the piano nobile from that of the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, was exhibited in the Royal Academy exhibition in 1902[ii]. Its vaulted first floor reading room, shown here, makes direct reference to Michelozzo Michelozzo’s Biblioteca di San Marco in Florence, which has been identified as “the archetype of the renaissance library”[iii].

[i] CTUK NRS GD281/3/171. Smith, S. 1899. Letter to Andrew Carnegie 9 August.

[ii] The Builder, 9.4.1904 p.391 and pullout

[iii] Cecchini, G. 1967. Evoluzione Architettonico-Strutturale Della Biblioteca Pubblica inItalia Dal Secolo XV al XVII. Accademie e biblioteche d’Italia no. 35 (1967): 27–47.

Architects: Arthur Ernest McKewan & James Arthur Swan of Birmingham. Heritage designation: LG II, 1986. Purpose built library; Carnegie grant: £10,000, 1899. Open library, council managed.

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