A new library for Strathblane

In 2019 Strathblane Community Development Trust (SCDT) embarked on a major project to create a new community library to replace the village’s library facility, a dilapidated 40-year-old portacabin of a total of 124 sq metres including support services and meeting room. Despite its size, age and limited opening hours, Strathblane Library is one of the council’s busiest rural libraries. In 2019, its last full year of operation, the facility attracted 33,000 visits from 1500 people, issuing over 18,000 items. It also hosted a wide range of activities, from children’s BookBug classes to 1-1 consulting sessions for people in need.

In one of the largest non-equity community fund-raising exercises to be carried out so far in Scotland, finance totalling £1,000,000 was secured from more than 270 private and charitable donors, mostly local residents, to meet the full capital cost. The principal donor is Angus Graham of Ballewan Estate. The building has been named the Thomas Graham Library in memory of Mr Graham’s Glasgow-born great-great-uncle, Professor Thomas Graham, who was the world’s leading physical chemist of the 19th century. 

In November 2022, the state-of-the-art hub building of c.208 square metres incorporating an advanced net zero-carbon renewable energy system was completed. It hosts a spacious library (40% larger than the one it replaced) and community rooms that are designed to enable flexible delivery of a wide range of events, functions, programmes and activities.

An imaginative partnership has been developed between SCDT and Stirling Council for the continued delivery of the council’s excellent library service from this exciting new building.  This is the first community-council partnership to bring a new dimension to the delivery of vital library services in Scotland: a blend of charitable and donor finance, community enterprise and local authority expertise. 

This unique development is believed to be the UK’s first new public library building to be funded by voluntary donation in recent times. It will shoulder no debt.

Through this pioneering initiative, Stirling Council has been able, at no capital cost, to secure the replacement of one of its oldest libraries with a larger facility, located in a striking modern building with advanced net zero carbon energy system.

The Scottish Library and Information Council has described the community-funded Thomas Graham Library as “….a very interesting project that brings a new dimension to library service delivery in Scotland.”

The Thomas Graham Library has been supported by Local Energy Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme.

Thomas Graham

Thomas Graham

The principal donor to the library construction is Angus Graham of Ballewan Estate. The building has been named the Thomas Graham Library in memory of Mr Graham’s Glasgow-born great-great-uncle, Professor Thomas Graham, who was the world’s leading physical chemist of the 19th century. 

The Scottish Library and Information Council has described the community-funded Thomas Graham Library as “….a very interesting project that brings a new dimension to library service delivery in Scotland.”