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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Buildings and Cityscape


By John C Crawford

Langside Library The period 1914-1950s was one of consolidation rather than expansion and a move from a philanthropic to a public funding base. The Carnegie funded programme of branch building was largely completed by 1915 with the opening of Langside library. This gave Glasgow Scotland's largest network of branch libraries, a reference library of national reputation and unfortunately the financial burden to go with it. Additionally Francis Thornton Barrett founded Britain's first separate commercial library to serve the needs of local business and industry.

Mitchell Library by Night By the late 1950s Glasgow had more branch libraries than any other city in the UK. The extension to the Mitchell Library, completed in 1963, was, at the time, the largest building programme of its kind in the UK. In 1946 the Scottish School of Librarianship was established in Glasgow to give librarians a proper professional training, recognition of the poor standards of management which had been common until then.

Glasgow University Library, 1930s Some independent, publicly available libraries, notably Baillie's Institution, survived, but growth was largely found in the Further Education and Higher Education sectors and the libraries of professional associations and businesses. Higher Education level library provision was provided at the University of Glasgow in a building completed in the 1870s. The Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College library was on a much smaller scale. In the 1950s further education colleges were opened to offer vocational education and they were provided with libraries from the beginning although these were quite small. Glasgow College of Building and Printing and the College of Commerce are good examples. Professional level services were also being developed at pre-existing institutions such as Jordanhill College.

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