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Treasure 43: Lending Department Catalogue (1886)
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Treasure 43: Lending Department Catalogue (1886)

Historic Documents
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Treasure 43: Lending Department Catalogue (1886)
Historic Documents
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Treasure 43: Lending Department Catalogue (1886)
To commemorate Aberdeen's first free lending library opening 130 years ago this month we have selected a bound copy of the catalogue as one of our treasures. The hard back volume was presented to the library by the late Robert Anderson. An inscription tells us Anderson received the volume in 1917 from Catherine W Duncan after the death of her brother, James W Duncan, in whose library it had previously resided.

The catalogue was printed by the Aberdeen University Press and comprises of a single continuous alphabetically sequence including authors names, subjects of works and miscellaneous headings. Additionally, the catalogue includes the bye-laws of the Library, a preface, an "Explanations and Directions" section, a key to the indicator system and adverts for many Aberdeen businesses. In his preface, Robertson states "In the preparation of the following Catalogue, the chief aim has been to provide a compendious and easy guide to the contents of the Lending Department of the Library, which readers can take to their homes. No particular system has been rigidly followed, but recourse has been had to whatever device seemed calculated to promote the desired objects."

Baillie Walker and Dr Alexander Bain, Lord Rector of the University, also spoke at the opening of the Lending Department. Bain discussed the make-up of the book stock and the efforts undertaken to create this new development. He gave particular mention to the application of Library Committee member Duguid Milne. Baillie Walker stressed the preparatory work and said that Robertson, the Librarian, turned night into day in his efforts and that it was absolutely necessary that he takes a well-deserved holiday during the summer.

Even at the opening of the new Lending Department there was an awareness that the current building was inadequate. Efforts by the Library Committee to secure new premises had already been underway for some time. At the opening, A O Gill, Chairman of the Sub-Building Committee, stated that "they ought to have something better for the public than the present building, and he hoped that they would be able soon to provide a building suitable for the requirements of this large and populous city."

After much discussion of sites, gathering of funds, and construction work, the purpose built Aberdeen Central Library on the new Rosemount Viaduct was officially opened on 5th July 1892 and remains the home of Aberdeen's Public Libraries to this day. The old Mechanics' Institution has since primarily housed a mixture of hotels and pubs. A reminder of its brief time as Aberdeen's Public Library was found in 1950 when painters decorating the then Bon Accord Hotel uncovered a hidden sign showing the library's old opening times.
Library catalogue
TR08_18
Lending Department, Library
Aberdeen Local Studies
Yes
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