1904 – West Lothian, Scotland. Lat/Long 55.85194444-3.567777778
West Calder is a fine early example of a small urban library. Recently refurbished its glazed screens remain in situ.
Architect: William Baillie of Glasgow. Heritage designation: Cat B, 1989. Purpose built library; Carnegie grant: £2,500 19/09/1902. Open library, council managed.
3D Laser Scan Navigation Video
Notes from Norma Bonnar (West Calder librarian)
West Calder Library “The Hub of the community”
The foundation stone was laid on 30th July by John Fyfe, the managing director of “Young Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company”. Originally opened in November 1904 by Lord Roseberry & was funded by a grant from Andrew Carnegie. There was a band stand to the left of the library grounds which has been replaced by a cenotaph which is well attended every year for Remembrance Day.
The West Calder Librarian was well catered for and had a house provided to them on the ground floor of the building. They could access the library form the inside by way of a spiral staircase which is still present to this day.
A renovation project took place in 2016 at a cost of £500,000. It was at this point that the ground floor now houses the Breich Valley Housing office. There are still a few remaining relics of the past. The wall clock, an umbrella stand and the “Ladies reading room” sign which is above the door now used for our public access computers. The best find was the original flooring hidden under the carpeting. It has been restored and gives the library a warm welcoming feel.
A new junior section was created, a private room for Customer Information Service customers and a Housing interview room. The main desk was also moved and replaced and colourful blinds were purchased. The idea was to try and mix the old and new together. The junior section was moved to the top of the library and with moveable shelving, this allowed for us to create space for author visits, class visits and book bug sessions.
The library has a small local history section. In the past we have had visitors who have arrived from a cruise ship in Greenoch and travelled by train to West Calder to look up their family history. Fortunately there were many references to their relations within our local history stock.
By giving the library a sympathetic renovation, it is hoped this will future proof the library for many years to come welcoming, current, new & old customers whatever their needs.
P.S. we are still convinced that we have ghosts from customers past. Books fall off shelves on a regular basis. Maybe it’s hinting for us to tidy the shelves!
West Calder Library – an asset to the community.