On the 13th January 1885, the Brander Library first opened its doors to customers and we took the opportunity to celebrate this significant date and delve a little deeper into the history and development of a library service in Huntly.
William Brander was the son of a local shoemaker who made his fortune on the London Stock Exchange. He wanted to do something for the community that raised him and so set up the Brander Trust to fund the construction of a lending library and a good stock of ‘sound moral’ books. The Trust also to created bursaries for the education of a number of local children.
Things were very different back in those days: customers paid for 1st or 2nd class membership and chose titles from a catalogue rather than browsing the shelves and leafing through an interesting book to see what might take their fancy. The library and building were taken over in 1927 by the County Education Authority and in 1933 the decision was made to create free access for the public. Library membership soared.
We hosted some events to coincide with the anniversary: there was a local history talk and family history session led by senior registrar Lynne Driver; children from Gordon Primary School displayed their wonderful castle constructions from their CS Lewis project and gave a presentation to parents in an open afternoon event; a display was created to showcase some of the artifacts associated with the building and a timeline of the library’s history was displayed going up the grand staircase.
The building itself is category 2 listed and a striking landmark in the town square. It is certainly a very special place and quite a legacy. Nowadays it houses not only the community library but also the Huntly and Deveron Development Trust, the chief reporter of the Huntly Express and Deveron Projects arts foundation.