Partnership set to begin work on £1m community library for Strathblane

A pioneering partnership has been unveiled to build a new £1 million library for the village of Strathblane.

Partnership set to begin work on £1m community library for Strathblane

Thomas Graham Library Ltd (TGLL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Strathblane Community Development Trust, will begin work next month on constructing an architect-designed building that will house a wide range of community services as well as Stirling Council’s library service.

Scheduled to open in October 2022, the building will be owned and operated by TGLL on behalf of the community.

The remarkable project breaks new ground in two ways:

  • The 211 sq metre building has been funded entirely through personal and charitable donations, making it the first community-owned public library to be built in Scotland in living memory. A total of 270 local people donated to a library crowdfunding appeal that raised £985,000.
  • Stirling Council will lease the library facility from TGLL, equip it and deliver its popular library service in a unique partnership with the community.

The new library will replace a 40-year-old mobile cabin which houses Strathblane’s current library. It will be named after Professor Thomas Graham, the great-uncle of Angus Graham, a local landowner and businessman who is principal donor. Professor Graham was a Glasgow-born chemist who pioneered the science of diffusion and became a leading British scientist in the mid-19th century.

“A visit to a library should enrich the mind and the soul but to do that we must invest in the contents, the staff and the buildings,” said Councillor Chris Kane, convener of Stirling’s community planning and regeneration committee.

“Local government finances are getting tighter all the time and it is incumbent upon the council and communities to work together to find innovative solutions to ensure our libraries have a bright and secure future. This project is an excellent example of what is possible, and I am excited to see the results of this unique and positive collaboration when it opens its doors in 2022.” 

Margaret Vass, chair of the development trust, added: “This is a staggering commitment by our community, led by Angus Graham, to secure such a huge sum. It demonstrates people’s strong loyalty to their local library and its wonderful staff. Our aim is that the Thomas Graham Library will provide the community hub that we have sought for so many years.”

The new library will be carbon-neutral thanks to its state-of-the-art renewable energy system, supported by a grant from the Scottish Government’s CARES Local Energy Programme. The complex installation comprises roof-mounted solar panels and an air-source heat pump, together with battery and thermal storage facilities, all managed by a sophisticated control programme donated by a local company, CC North of Killearn.

From the outset, TGLL has sought to use local companies and expertise. The building’s design came from Thomas Robinson Architects of nearby Croftamie, and it will be constructed by Fleming Buildings of Lenzie.

This is believed to be the first time that a local community in Scotland has partnered with its council to deliver such a significant investment in a new public asset. And the project represents one of the largest community fund-raisings to date in Scotland.

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