“Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.”*

*Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919), Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist.

Image: (Wikipedia) “Joseph Frank Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966), known professionally as Buster Keaton, was an American actor, comedian, film director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer. He is best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression that earned him the nickname “The Great Stone Face”.”

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

“If his marriage had turned Rosebery into a great magnate, there were drawbacks, as he joked in his diary: since his wedding, he wrote, ‘I have divided mankind into three categories (with a few brilliant exceptions): 1. Those who abuse me because my wife has money; 2. Those who want some of that money; 3. Those who do both.’ He was now firmly established as one of the leading figures of society, which meant that all his activities were a source of interest to the press. In June 1880, for example, when he went on a driving tour of Scotland with a group of US millionaires led by the Iron King Andrew Carnegie, the Pall Mall Gazette covered their departure and referred to his high spirits: ‘Lord Rosebery, who with his close-shaven face and spruce attire, his bell-shaped hat and humorous smile which plays about his mouth, is the very ideal of a prosperous comedian.’ ”

Yvonne MacMillan wrote in Lothian Life, April 2013:

“The first Carnegie library in the old county of Midlothian opened at West Calder in November 1904. With a ceremonial golden key, the former British Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, unlocked the door to a world of free books. The many invited guests – members of the parish and county councils, school board members, library contractors and representatives of the local community eagerly entered, itching to see and marvel at their finished library. After hearing a Dedicatory Prayer by a local minister, the guests looked on as Lord Rosebery presented a number to the librarian for a book – thereafter declaring the library open. Refreshments of tea, cake and wine in the new library rooms followed and that evening, the whole community celebrated at a Ball in the Polytechnic Hall.

…A written request to Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie – the Scot who made his fortune in the steel industry in America – proved a trump card and he donated £2,500 to the parish council for the construction of a new building. (The Carnegie Foundation helped fund almost 3,000 libraries worldwide)…

…The winning design, from six submissions, was the brain-child of Glasgow-based architect, 28-year-old William Baillie. A two-storey design, Baillie’s plans showed the library perched on top with the librarian’s house beneath built into the hill creating a now-you-see it, now-you-don’t effect. A wrought-iron, black spiral staircase inside the library linked both levels. Andrew Carnegie’s crucial contribution in place, the local community rallied to the cause raising £300 for their new library at a fundraising bazaar.

Several months later, the gala occasion of the laying of the library’s memorial stone took place with Mr John Fyfe, managing director of Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company, the biggest employer in the area, invited to do the honours. Speeches done and dusted, a bottle filled with coins of the realm was placed in the cavity of the memorial stone. “Another landmark,” the local paper reported, “And that a very important one in the history of our Village and Parish.”

…The newly-built library received many generous donations of books from local people and businesses. It also welcomed with open arms piles of books (1600 volumes) from the original subscription library. On top of this, an annual budget of £320 had been agreed for the purchase of new books. An approved list was sent to suppliers, inviting quotations from James Thin and Douglas and Foulis in Edinburgh, Maclehose in Glasgow and Mudie’s in London but in the end, small, local firm, James Brown of West Calder, landed the contract.

By the end of its first year, the fast-growing library membership stood at over 800, with 15,500 issues recorded. Book-hungry borrowers were not put off then by the first librarian in post – a stickler for rules – and nicknamed “Auld Wheesht”.”

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