The Library, Glasgow

History of Stirlings Library


In writing any history about Glasgow’s public libraries, first place is given, in right of seniority, to the time-honoured name of Stirling's Library. Mr. Walter Stirling bequeathed on his death in 1791 his own collection of books, his house in Miller Street, a thousand pounds sterling money, and other property, for the purpose of establishing a library.

At first the books were only available as reference and were not allowed to be taken from the library unless permission was given by the directors of the library. It was also only open to a certain class of subscibers. It wasn’t until 1848 that the library was opened to the public for free reading in the library hall although books could still not be lent from the library. In 1871 the library amalgamated with the Glasgow Public Library which was a subscription library formed in 1804; and the title changed to "Stirling's and Glasgow Public Library." The actual home of Mr Stirling proved unsuitable for the library over the years and it was sited in other locations including St Enoch Square and Hutchesons Hospital.

In 1874 a bequeath from a Mr Stephen Mitchell resulted in the formation of the Mitchell Library which was at first housed in a warehouse in Ingram street. As subscribers and volumes grew a new home had to be found. The former Water Commissioners building was demolished and rebuilt and in 1864 the building once again became a library – the Mitchell library. The Mitchell library moved to its current site in North Street in 1911.

In 1912 Stirling's Library was transferred to the city's Libraries Department, and moved in 1913 to the premises in Miller Street previously occupied by the Mitchell Library. This became the established home for Stirlings Library until 1954.

In 1954 Stirling's Library removed once again, to the Royal Exchange on Queen Street. This was its permanent grand home until it was moved back to Miller Street in 1994 to allow for the Royal Exchange building's conversion into the Gallery of Modern Art. The library returned to the basement of the Royal Exchange building (previously occupied by the Commercial Library) as the Library at GOMA in 2002.

Stirling’s library has now been transformed into luxury flats and we are proud to be associated with a building with such a fascinating history. A lot of the original features have been retained ,in particular the amazing cupolas which you can see on the top floor of the building.

Meanwhile, the Mitchell library has grown into one of Europe's largest public libraries with a book stock of 1.3 million books, 35,000 maps and thousands of photographs, newspapers and microfilms. The Mitchell continues as the hub of a citywide information service for all residents, workers and visitors to the City.

Hopefully this short history will help give you a sense of the character of the building and our own apartment, during your stay in Glasgow at the Library. However please note I am no historian and apologise if any of the research I have made into the history is inaccurate!

For more information Contact Us or Tel: 01903 246245