What a fascinating day out we all had at the Innerpeffray Library on the 25th August, organised by Isobel Griffin, Collections Care Manager at the National Library of Scotland.
Innerpeffray library was the first free public lending library in Scotland, and possibly the world. The library was founded by the Drummond family in 1680 and its main purpose was to make books accessible to ordinary people, free of charge, to benefit the local community. Although, Innerpeffray is understandably no longer a lending library, it is still possible to spend the day perusing the incredibly eclectic library collections in their cosy reading room.
We journeyed just over an hour (from Edinburgh) into the beautiful Perthshire countryside to reach the library and were warmly welcomed by Lara Haggerty the Library Manager and keeper of the books. After being given a brief introduction to the library’s humble beginnings we had a good wee nosey at the Borrowers’ Register, a handwritten record chronicling the lenders, their occupations, the books they borrowed and, most intriguingly, the penalties they incurred for returning a book late!
We were then led upstairs to the reading room and invited to explore their collections. After lunch in the old school house, we wandered around the stunning chapel and were shown where the original library was started, in a small quirky room in the roof of the chapel where only a fireplace remained.
A great trip was had by all!
For more information about Innerpeffray library, click here.
John Murray Archive Project Conservation Technician
National Library of Scotland