Historic library to be restored in Edzell

Inglis Hall
Inglis Hall

THE RESTORATION of Edzell’s Inglis Memorial Hall’s historic library looks to have taken a step forward thanks to the offer of a LEADER grant towards the cost of the project, however work will not include a modern lending library.

In his report to the neighbourhood services committee which meets on Thursday, April 11, committee strategic director for communities, Alan McKeown explained the reason why a modern lending library could not be reintroduced: “By returning the library to its original layout, the floor is dominated by the provision of three long tables and chairs.

“The original book shelves, built into the east wall of the room by Black’s of Brechin were used to display the original donation of books and will once again do just that.

“To accommodate more books would require us to add free standing shelves, as there are no remaining walls and there is simply not space to do this as well.

“Property Services has looked at this and supports this view.”

The Inglis Memorial Library was gifted to Edzell in 1898 by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert W Inglis and still contains its original stock of 6,000 books.

Mr McKeown goes on to explain that the museum’s only option honours the initial Trust since the museum would be returning the library to how it was in 1898.

“As a heritage attraction, it does have the potential to attract good visitor numbers to the village,” continued Mr McKeown.

“In any event, no funding is available to reintroduce a lending library in Edzell and indeed Angus Council significantly reduced the opening hours of the seven burgh libraries from April 2012 due to the need for further budget savings.”

In a letter to Angus Council, Katherine McKee, chairperson of the Library and Information History Group, a special interest group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), also stated that a lending library would not be suitable within the limited space available.

She said: “I understand that local residents are keen to see the restoration of a modern lending library at Edzell and this would be of undoubted benefit to the community. However, to attempt to do this within the limited footprint of the historic library would compromise the lending services given the inadequate space to accommodate the facilities needed, and would also greatly reduce the potential of a museum, limiting the activities and interpretation that could be provided.

“Should it prove possible to introduce lending services elsewhere within the building, that would provide a solution that would meet the needs of all parties.”

Angus Council have received an offer if a grant of £33,000 from Rural Tayside LEADER for the project, which could start work in May, with a completion date for December.

This would still require Angus Council to contribute £30,000 towards the project that will be met from the neighbourhood services budget for 2013/14.

Upon its completion volunteers would be sought from within the community to assist with the opening of the facility to the public – 30 residents have already indicated they would be keen to be involved.

It is also thought that CILIP library students would be encouraged to visit the library as part of their studies and organisations such as Angus Arts have also indicated a desire to hold Victorian-related events there.

Edzell Library Action Group, who have fought since 2010 to have a lending library reinstated at Inglis Hall, were unable to give a comment at this time but will issue one in due course.

The committee have been recommended to accept the LEADER grant and agree to progress the library’s restoration.