Gallus Glasgow M: The Mitchell

Mitchell Library. Image credit: Andeggs, via Wikimedia. Public domain.
Mitchell Library. Image credit: Andeggs, via Wikimedia. Public domain.

The magnificent dome of the Mitchell Library is one of Glasgow’s most distinctive landmarks. The building opened in 1911, but the library itself dates from the 1870s (based on a bequest by wealthy tobacco merchant Stephen Mitchell).

I can tell you exactly when I first set foot in the Mitchell – long before I lived in Glasgow. It was Easter 1980, and my library school class (from Sheffield, England) was on a field trip visiting Scottish libraries. An extension (opened 1981) was in its final stages and we were taken through it – no shelves or books, but the carpets were already laid. Oh those carpets! They were very proud of them and told us how much they had cost – I can’t remember, but I know it was a lot. They were VERY colourful – and what’s more, they are still there. Bring your shades! (Those of you who were paying attention yesterday – sit up at the back there! – should recognise the symbols in the carpet at the top right.)

Whether you like the carpets or not (and they have many fans and their own Facebook gallery) it’s undeniable that the Mitchell is a huge asset to the city. It’s one of Europe’s largest public libraries with over one million items of stock and the hub of a city-wide information service. It also includes a theatre, a conference space and the Herald Café Bar. I’m a frequent visitor.

N tomorrow – it involves bagpipes!

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